MASON CITY | Rich McCardle always had the itch to be a head football coach.
Of all the potential landing spots, he never really thought Newman Catholic would be an option.
“Mike (Dirksen) was one of those guys you never thought would go,” McCardle said.
But when Dirksen resigned after 31 seasons at the helm, the resounding idea around Newman was to promote from within to keep the stability and structure that has been developed in place.
On Tuesday, Newman Catholic announced that McCardle is Dirksen’s successor, handing the program to a 45-year-old who played and coached at Waldorf College and was on Dirksen’s staff the previous two seasons, coaching the linebackers, running backs and kickers.
MCardle said the staff will remain largely intact with Joe Klatt providing defensive insight and Jim Kruckenberg and his more than two decades of experience helping game plan the offense.
“We wanted to keep our staff together,” McCardle said. “It worked out. I kind of had the best opportunity with the timing working out so well.”
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Prior to his time at Newman, McCardle was an assistant at Waldorf from 2007-09 where he served as wide receiver and kicking coach. From 2010-12, McCardle was a board member and coach of YSF football in Mason City.
McCardle played at Waldorf from 1988-90 as a defensive back and kicker. He went on to play at Northwest Missouri State in 1991. McCardle has been a resident of Mason City since 2002 and is a 1988 graduate of Independence High School where he was an all-state linebacker.
While it will be a new head coaching roaming the sidelines, McCardle said one staple of the Dirksen era will remain.
“We will still be an inside trap team,” McCardle said. “But we are going to expand on that. We want to open it up a little bit. We don’t have a tremendous amount of size to run a lot, so we are going to open it up.”
Newman won 218 games in 31 years under Dirksen’s direction and reached the playoffs 14 times.
While the head coach has changed, McCardle said there will always be an open invitation for the old coach to stop by practice whenever he wants.
“He wished me the best,” McCardle said. “And I let him know he’s always welcome to come around. He doesn’t need an invitation.”