Longtime assistant takes the reins at Eastwood

Yaneek Smith

Press Sports Editor

It certainly seems like a good fit.
Sam Cotterman, who graduated from Elmwood High School 23 years ago, was an offensive lineman at the University of Findlay before coaching with the Oilers as a graduate assistant and then moving on to Perrysburg.
Now that his children are a little older and he is no longer the head wrestling coach with the Yellow Jackets, Cotterman jumped at the chance to coach the Eastwood football team.
He’s obviously familiar with the Eagles from his playing days with the Royals and brings 16 years of experience as an assistant coach with Perrysburg. Cotterman was a four-year starter on the offensive line in college and coached the offensive and defensive lines with the Yellow Jackets. His time playing and coaching in the trenches should make him an ideal fit with Eastwood, known for the Wing-T rushing attack under previous coaches Craig and Jerry Rutherford.
Discussing his football philosophy, Cotterman said, “I like to spread the field and make the defense defend the entire field, (but) I am still an offensive lineman at heart. I like to run the ball. If they pack the box, we’ve got to be able to pass it. Whatever the defense gives us, take advantage of that.
“Defensively, I don’t care about size as much as speed. I like to cause havoc for the offensive line,” he said. "
Cotterman has kept tabs a bit on the Eagles.
I’ve watched them over the years, being close by. I didn’t have a ton of time because I was concentrating on Perrysburg,” he said. “The support that the players had, that’s what I know about the community.”
While at Elmwood, Cotterman was part of two teams that won Suburban Lakes League titles and one that qualified for the playoffs. His coach in Bloomdale, Roger Frank, eventually took over at Perrysburg and coached there until Matt Kregel was named the coach.
While coaching with the Yellow Jackets, Cotterman got to experience a number of playoff runs, most notably in 2015 when Perrysburg won a regional championship before blowing a 14-point lead and losing to Cincinnati La Salle, the eventual state champion, 49-28, in the Division II state semifinals.
“The tournament runs were so exciting,” he said. “My favorite practice was practicing at night on Thanksgiving with the lights on. The kids were having a blast.”
Cotterman and Kregel hit it off, working together for 14 years.
“We bonded so quickly when I got there. He turned over the weight room to me and let me run the room and prepare the kids, using my background,” Cotterman said. “We thought a lot alike; he was like a big brother to me.” He coached the Perrysburg wrestling team from 2010-17 and won a Northern Lakes League title in each of his seven seasons and was named the Ohio Coach of the Year after the Yellow Jackets finished second in Div. I.
“I was the head wrestling coach at Perrysburg for seven years, and stepped down to concentrate on football,” Cotterman said. “My wife and I started to have kids. Probably about three years ago, I started to think I wanted to be a head coach again, so I kept my eyes open, and this opening popped up.”
Last season, Eastwood went 12-1, won the Northern Buckeye Conference and lost in the Div. V regional semifinals to Elmwood, 28-7.
The Eagles will lose all-Ohioan Case Boos, who played quarterback and defensive back, and 15 other players who graduated.
Cotterman replaces Craig Rutherford, who went 58-12, in six seasons coaching at his alma mater. Eastwood won three NBC titles (2017, 2019 and 2022), and made five playoff appearances. His first season saw the Eagles go 14-1 and fall in the Div. V state final to Wheelersburg, 21-14, in overtime.
Jerry Rutherford, for whom the football stadium is named, coached the Eagles for 35 years, going 227-140 with 10 league championships and 10 playoff appearances.
Oak Harbor coach Mike May coached Cotterman when he was an assistant at Elmwood in the 1990s. He speaks highly of Cotterman and his twin brother, Steve.
“I think he will do a great job as a head coach,” May said. “He was an excellent player at Elmwood and the University of Findlay. Sam has also had valuable experience as an assistant at Findlay and Perrysburg. I remember him as a very hard worker with great character when I coached him.”


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