By Anvil Welch
Joe Bettasso, a 2000 graduate of Joplin High School, quickly shed the interim head coach tag at McPherson (Kan.) College.
Bettasso officially was named head coach of the Bulldogs in late February.
NAIA member McPherson competes in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Bettasso, a standout in the secondary at JHS under Jesse Wall, started three years as a strong safety at Missouri Southern for Bill Cooke and the late John Ware.
Bettasso served as the McPherson defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator the past two seasons under Brian Ward.
“This is a great situation,” Bettasso said on Tuesday. “It’s a real positive to my career. Coaching at any level always will be a challenge. You worry about depth like any coach in the country.
“We have a good group of upperclassmen,” Bettasso said. “We have some depth. I believe we’re scheduled to return 10 starters on defense and nine on defense. We’ll have a senior running back, Aaron Lafitte, who was an honorable mention All-American last season.
“We were 9-2 overall last season and lost (at MidAmerica Nazarene) in the first round of the playoffs,” Bettasso said. “We lost (also on the road) to conference champion Ottawa in two overtimes.”
The position of head coach at McPherson became vacant when Ward, a former Missouri Southern assistant, moved to North Dakota State as an assistant.
Said Ward in a McPherson release: “It’s an ultimate compliment by the administration and the athletic director to promote one of my former players and coaches to continue with the program and the foundation that was started three years ago. Joe knows this program, the philosophy and scheme inside and out. He is the perfect man for the job right now. I am very proud of him and how far he has come. The administration knows what it is doing and wants to win. It did the right thing.”
Said McPherson athletic director Jenni Richardson: “Joe is respected by the players and will have a great support staff in place. The team is excited and focused on next season and looks to continue building on the foundation of success that was established with the 2009 season. We look for great things to come in the future.”
The McPherson offensive coordinator is Chad Muehler. His coaching experience includes a stint at Missouri Southern.
Bettasso, who turns 27 on Jan. 23, was a graduate assistant at Southern for Bart Tatum before going to McPherson in 2007 as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.
Bettasso, as a coordinator, turned a McPherson defense into a unit that’s ranked among the top 30 nationally in rushing defense per game (No. 8), opponent third down conversion (9), sacks (20), total defense (26) and scoring defense (29).
By Anvil Welch
- High School Sports
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