Jeff Woodruff new coach at Oaks

Before hundreds of parents, players and fans, Jeff Woodruff was introduced as the next football coach at Oaks Christian in the school’s gym on Wednesday night.

Woodruff was an assistant coach at the University of Texas El Paso and spent four seasons as the head coach at Eastern Michigan. He was at UTEP for eight years and is considered a special teams guru.

He was the safeties coach and special teams coordinator before moving to tight ends and assistant coach in 2007.

“He has an excellent resume,” Oaks Christian athletic director Jan Hethcock said. “He’s done a lot of things.”

Hethcock said the search for a football coach at Oaks Christian was narrowed to six candidates and it took three days to whittle the list down to Woodruff. Mark Bates, an assistant under Bill Redell, who started the football program at Oaks Christian 12 years ago, was one of the finalists.

In addition to introducing Woodruff as the next head coach, Hethcock announced that Bates will be the associate head coach of the football team. It is the first time the Oaks Christian football team has had an associate coach.

Hethcock added that Woodruff brought a combination of qualities he was looking for in the next head coach at Oaks Christian.

“No. 1, he’s a highly qualified coach who was a Christian,” Hethcock said. “He wasn’t shy about showing his faith. He’s coached at a high level. I asked him why he wants to come out this way. He said, ‘I have a great job. For the last two years, I’ve felt this calling. I’ve coached a long time and I want to finish my career at a faith-based school.’ That intrigued us.”

Woodruff has been coaching college football for more than 30 years. He started as a graduate assistant at Kent State University and had stops at Arizona and Washington before UTEP.

Hethcock said the decision was not an easy one.

“The quality of people was great,” Hethcock said. “It’s not going to be easy to replace Bill Redell. Change can be energizing. He’s done his homework, he knows the kids’ faces. It’s going to be different. He’s excited.”

Not only will Oaks Christian have a new coach next season, but the football team is moving into the CIF-Southern Section Pac 5 Division for playoffs. Oaks Christian has played in the past two Northern Division championship games. The Lions won the division title in 2010 and lost to Westlake last year.

“He’s excited and ready to go,” Hethcock said. “But it’s a sad day. Bill was the face of Oaks Christian football. We’re going to miss him at the helm.”