SYCAMORE TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Mark Elder and his family feel at home at Moeller High School. It is a homecoming of sorts to the area.
Elder, who spent the past four seasons as the Eastern Kentucky University head coach, was named the Moeller High School head coach Thursday morning.
Elder, his wife, Lindsey, and their three children were at the introductory press conference Thursday afternoon at the school. Elder has 20 years of coaching experience overall with programs in the Southeastern Conference, Big Ten, Big East, and Mid-American Conference.
Elder, a 1996 Sycamore High School graduate, said his family views the Moeller position as a long-term decision.
"We came here with the idea that – I guess you can never know what forever is – but certainly this wasn't the next job," Elder said. "This was the opportunity that we were looking for from a stability standpoint. On the personal side, the stability standpoint, the family standpoint. I loved having the opportunity to grow up in this city. I think it's an unbelievable place to raise kids."
Elder succeeds former Moeller coach Todd Naumann. Elder is the eighth head coach in Moeller's storied program history.
“We feel very fortunate to welcome Mark to the Moeller family," Moeller athletic director Mike Asbeck said. "The caliber of his coaching and his track record as a proven winner will elevate Moeller football in the years to come."
Naumann stepped down Nov. 8 after one season with the Crusaders. Moeller was 2-8 overall including 0-3 in the Greater Catholic League South division in 2019.
Elder will be the fourth coach in four seasons, following John Rodenberg (2017), Doug Rosfeld (2018) and Naumann (2019).
"I know that that's always difficult when there is transitions and there is a new guy at the front of the room every year," Elder said.
"That certainly makes things difficult – no question about it. And I look to bring stability to the program. I've been through transitions as a player and as a coach – both high school and college I went through transitions where my head coach left, and numerous times I've been a part of a new staff coming in and a new culture and new expectations. I always think that is the toughest on the players, and we are going to try to make as seamless of a transition for them."
Moeller opens the 2020 season at Middletown in a game at Barnitz Stadium Week 1. It is a one-year deal between the programs.
Asbeck said Moeller needs to finalize a Week 4 opponent and the season schedule isn't completed yet. Asbeck said Thursday morning Moeller plans to play home games at Princeton High School as it did most of this past season.
Eastern Kentucky University announced Nov. 25 Elder would not return as the Colonels’ head coach. Elder was 21-24 in four seasons including 15-16 in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Colonels won seven games each of the past two seasons.
His EKU football teams also had over 2,000 hours of service in the community in the last two years, according to Moeller.
Prior to EKU, he previously served as the tight ends coach and special teams coordinator at the University of Tennessee starting in 2013 under former head coach Butch Jones.
Elder was also a University of Cincinnati assistant from 2010 to 2012 with Jones. Elder coached tight ends, running backs, safeties and special teams over that time with the Bearcats.
Over his final 11 seasons as an assistant coach, Elder helped his teams reach nine bowl games and win four conference championships, according to his biography from EKU.
In 2014 he was ranked as one of the top-50 recruiters in the nation, according to EKU. In 2015 he was recognized as one of the top-25 recruiters in college football.
Elder helped the University of Michigan and former head coach Lloyd Carr reach bowl games as a defensive graduate assistant in 2005 and 2006.
He coached the Central Michigan linebackers for three seasons (2007-09). During that time, Central Michigan qualified for three bowl appearances and won two Mid-American Conference Championships.
Elder also served as the defensive coordinator at Wayne State (2004) and Iona (2003). He was assistant coach at Lehigh in 2002 and a graduate assistant with Akron in 2000 and 2001.
Moeller has won nine state football titles (2013, 2012, 1985, 1982, 1980, 1979, 1977, 1976, 1975), which is third-most in OHSAA history behind Cleveland St. Ignatius and Maria Stein Marion Local – both of whom have 11 titles each.
Moeller is tied with Ironton for having the second-most OHSAA football playoff appearances (35) in state history. Moeller was No. 10 all-time in football playoff wins (49) entering the 2019 postseason.