WYOMING - There’s a reason why Midland defensive coordinator Ryan Dodge has such a style, flair and passion for the game of football.
And it comes quite naturally thank you.
Dodge’s father Steve was a high school All-American football player for Cedar Rapids Kennedy High School back in the late 1960s, and he passed that passion for the game on to Ryan, who has since done the same for his kids, Jadon, Jensen and Jamisen.
All four of whom are members of the 2019 Midland football team this fall.
Friday nights are a regular Dodge family reunion as both Jadon and Ryan are members of the coaching staff while Jensen and Jamisen play on the field, and it’s the Eagle program that is reaping the benefits having earned playoff berths each of the last four years.
And the team hopes for a fifth in a row this fall.
“Coach Dodge is what I call our ‘fire up’ coach,” said Midland head football coach Lennie Miller. “Every team need this type of coach on their staff. His passion runs high and that is very much reflected in his coaching.
“Even when he gets on our kids for not performing up to their potential, every single player knows two things. One. Coach Dodge is animated because he has high expectations for them. Two. He believes in them more than they believe in themselves. Coach Dodge is the first to help a player celebrate their success large or small with a contagious passion that inspires them to work hard. They simply don’t want to let him down.”
Dodge started his coaching career as a youth football defensive coordinator way back in 2008, and has gradually worked his way up the coaching ranks ever since where he is now Midland’s defensive coordinator, and has been since the 2016 campaign.
“Coach Dodge brings a lot of intensity to our sideline,” said Eagle senior Alex Smith, who has played for Dodge each of the past three seasons. “He’s not scared to yell at us and knows how to motivate us to play at our best. His defensive schemes have worked well too. He knows where to put people to be the best they can be and most successful for the team. He’s always coming up with good game plans, too. He’s been a huge part of our playoff run here at Midland and we want to make sure we keep that run going this season too.
“Our goal is to not only make the playoffs, but make it back to the Dome.”
Dodge first came on board at the high school level during the 2010 campaign as a defensive assistant coach, and stayed in that capacity until 2015.
“The kids call me the team cheerleader,” said Dodge. “I guess that pretty fitting. I try and bring a lot of excitement and enthusiasm to the sideline. That’s something my dad instilled in me quite a few years ago and hopefully what I’m doing for each and every one of these Midland football kids. I want them to be as successful as they can possibly be, and over the last few years the hard work they’ve done off the field in the off-season has turned into wins and playoff appearances on the field. We want that kind of success to continue, and I think we can again this season, too.”
Dodge’s son Jadon followed his dad into the coaching ranks last season and is on the staff again this fall while Jensen, a senior and one of the top receivers in the 8-man game and sophomore Jamisen, give the Midland team a very ‘Dodge’ flavor.
“Honestly, Jadon hates to lose as much as I do, so we make a pretty good team,” Ryan said. “We don’t get after Jensen and Jamisen too much on the sideline. We led Lennie and the other coaches handle that. Those two aren’t going to listen to their dad or brother anyway. But the last few years have been so much fun, and I look forward to another year with Jensen this fall and then two more Jamisen as far as the football family thing goes. It’s pretty special having us all there together on Friday nights all on the sideline.”
Miller wouldn’t have it any other way.
“His ability to help kids exceed their own expectations shows our players just how much he cares for them and for Midland football,” Miller said. “The connection he creates with the players is strong, and doesn’t end when they no longer play. Many times, I see former players gather at his home after Friday nights to congratulate him after that night’s victory and to reminisce about when they played for Coach Dodge.”
With another big year ahead, Dodge is ready for his all-important role.
“The kids say I need pom poms on the sideline because of all the cheerleading I do,” Ryan said. “If that’s what it takes for us to win, I’ll do it. My dad got that passion for football started in me and I want to pass it along to my kids as well as every athlete here at Midland.”
The results sure speak for themselves.