GOBLES, Mich. — Tradition runs deep for the Gobles football program.
The Tigers won a state championship back in 1984 and while that is a long time ago, first-year head coach Greg Eichler is trying to restore that kind of tradition.
"We're trying to get back to where it was in the 80s, the 90s and the early 2000s; we've lost some of that," Eichler admitted.
Eichler grew up on the east side of Michigan and attended Walled Lake Western high school.
He had a teaching stop in Arizona before planting his roots in Gobles in 2016.
"I'm a big city guy that came into a rural area and that was a big adjustment," Eichler said, "but it's been awesome. It's a great experience, a lot of learning for me, but I'm bleeding orange and blue now, it's pretty sweet."
Since 2016, Eichler has been a social studies teacher at Gobles Middle School and has been coaching different levels around the program, including assisting with the varsity team.
Earlier this week, he was named the varsity head coach.
"Gobles is a community that is just rooted in tradition, excellent football tradition," he smiled.
The Tigers opted to go to 8-man football last season due to low numbers, but Eichler says that will change after this season.
"We're going to be back to 11 man," he added. "In our current freshmen class, we have 16 or 17 kids that we think will be back in the program. Incoming freshmen next year we have 15 to 17, so some really good numbers there."
And he says the first thing he's already done as head coach is reach out to the football alumni to hear about what the core values were when they played for the Tigers.
"I want to keep reaching out to our community and keep building those relationships," and about that tradition, he added, "I want to kind of revive it. To me, it's not much of a rebuild, it's more of a revival, just bringing back that excellence and tradition and maintaining that. We just have to explain to the kids what that tradition is and what it means to the school and the community."
The Tigers will open the season at home against Twin Cities (Lake Michigan Catholic, St. Joseph Lutheran, etc.) on August 27.
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