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Nick Blackburn's football coaching career has gotten off to a fast start.

He graduated from St. Teresa in 2007, joined Scott Davis' Bulldogs staff by 2009 and was running Tim Brilley's offense at St. T by 2012.

Now, he's got his first head coaching job.

Clinton confirmed the 28-year-old as its next coach at its school board meeting Monday. He takes over for John Hayden, who resigned after the season.

"He was given the reins of the offense at St. T at an early age," Clinton athletics director Barry Gurvey said. "Everyone knows St. Teresa's a good program, very well respected. They had success under him."

Blackburn and the rest of Brilley's staff was dismantled after Brilley resigned at the end of the 2015 football season. Blackburn teaches fifth grade at St. Patrick School, but found his way onto Andy Kerley's staff at Cerro Gordo-Bement this past fall, coaching wide receivers and defensive backs.

"I think I kind of learned that life goes on. No matter how many bad things happen in your life, they happen for a reason," Blackburn said, "and obviously my reason was to become the coach at Clinton."

Blackburn blew Clinton away in interviews.

"Nick felt he was ready for a head coaching position," Gurvey said. "Myself and the superintendent, our football committee, whoever (the interview) was with, everybody was impressed with Nick."

Blackburn got the job out of a pool of more than 20 applicants.

Everyone liked the broader picture he painted, Gurvey said.

"Outstanding character," Gurvey said. "Any time you talk about athletics in high school, people think it's about wins and losses but it's really about taking your athletes and make them adults that can be successful in the world. He's going to turn our boys into men."

"I wanted to make sure they know I'm gonna give them not just skills for football but to carry on for life," Blackburn said.

But about those wins and losses, Blackburn takes over a program that finished 4-5 this past season. In 2015, Hayden coached the Maroons back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

"I always felt like Clinton had a good amount of athletes and good community support," Blackburn said.

Gurvey looks for Blackburn to build a pipeline program all the way up from JFL.

"We're hoping Nick can get more numbers in our program -- get more kids out for football," Gurvey said, which has been a well-known problem recently. "We're hoping Nick can develop a great relationship with our JFL, so we have improved continuity throughout our program. Whether at fifth grade or high school, they're talking the same language."

The rest of Blackburn's blueprint is yet to be determined.

He said his offensive and defensive schemes will be based on personnel. Clinton lost a number of key starters on both sides, including its quarterback, running back and all-time tackles leader at linebacker.

He's not putting a timetable on gathering a staff either but said he's currently talking to past Clinton assistants and other candidates he knows.

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