ZEELAND, Mich. -- Every successful head football coach will tell you it takes an entire staff to build a program.
Gregg Hoogland has been John Shillito's defensive coordinator since 2000 at East Kentwood.
"We make education the foremost priority of high school football," Hoogland said. "These kids are students athletes."
With 18 years together, Hoogland is the longest tenured assistant that Shillito has ever had.
"Gregg is definitely the best assistant coach I've ever had" Shillito said. "And the smartest."
The players are big fans of Hoogland, too.
"Very in depth and always on it," junior running back and safety Chase Peddie said. "Never a dull moment with him. He's always fixing it, changing it, keeping us engaged. Great coach."
Hoogland is a Zeeland High School graduate and coached baseball at Zeeland before making the move to East Kentwood. It was Hoogland who suggested to Shillito that he apply for the job when Zeeland split into two schools.
"I just said it is a great community," Hoogland added. "I still believe that now, and I believe it for both schools. And we have both proven to be very successful, and it is a great town with great parents who really support us."
While Hoogland has thought about becoming a head coach, he says he is pretty happy right where he is.
"I've had some inklings about it, and people have approached me about it," Hoogland said. "I like being an assistant. I like the nuts and bolts of the game. I don't have to do that exterior kind of stuff that head coaches have to do. I mostly can just coach football, which I enjoy the most. And being with the kids is my favorite thing to do."
Hoogland, Shillito and the rest of the Dux football team are preparing for a Division 3 district championship game Friday night against Zeeland East, which will be the game of the week on the Blitz.