Last fall was the first time in 20 years Tim Able wasn’t in charge of an Indiana high school football program.
In his year away from head coaching responsibilities, Able recharged his batteries and hoped he could land a head coaching position and a teaching job — at the same school — for the 2013 season.
Able found that long-wanted fit at Triton Central.
The former New Palestine football coach was approved as the Tigers’ next coach by the Northwestern Consolidated School District of Shelby County Board of School Trustees Tuesday evening.
Able, who spent the 2012 season instructing quarterbacks and running backs at Whiteland, resigned from NP last June after three seasons because he was not able to land a teaching position at the school.
He has spent the last four years teaching elementary physical education in Decatur Central system — his previous coaching stop before 4A New Palestine — and will teach high school weight training and physical education at TC.
“It’s a situation that’s hard to pass up. Getting in the building, that was a must,” explained Able, 125-98 in 20 seasons as a head coach. “I can’t coach from afar again.
“We have a pretty good tradition that we want to build upon.”
The Triton Central job came open after Gabe Johnson recently departed after two seasons to become Bloomington South’s defensive coordinator.
Johnson went 14-10 at 2A Triton Central, guiding the school to its first 2A sectional crown in over 20 years in his first season. The Tigers’ other two sectional titles came in 1987 and 1988.
Able will be the fourth man to lead the Triton Central program in the past six years. Despite the coaching turnover, the Tigers have posted a winning record in eight consecutive seasons.
“It’s a neat opportunity. I’m not sure enough people know about (Triton Central),” Able noted of the school, located just 15 miles to the south of New Palestine along I-74. “It’s a program that’s had success.”
Able and Doug Seagrave, the TC athletic director, know each other from their days at Decatur Central, when Seagrave was an assistant athletic director and Able was the football coach.
“TC is elated to have Tim Able as our head football coach. He is a proven winner with championship experience,” Seagrave said. “Tim will lead our young men in a positive direction. His work begins now.”
In his three seasons heading the Dragons, Able went 30-6, capturing the school’s sixth sectional championship — its first as a 4A program — during his initial go-around in 2009. He won Hoosier Heritage Conference titles in 2010 and 2011.
In 2011, New Palestine began the season 11-0, ascending to its first-ever No. 1 ranking (4A) before falling to Pendleton Heights in the sectional finals.
The Dragons finished the 2012 season 3-7 under interim coach Charlie Hill, who was the team’s defensive coordinator under Able.
Former North Carolina offensive lineman and Cincinnati native Kyle Ralph was hired as the fifth coach in NP history earlier this month. He is slated to be approved by Southern Hancock County school board in February.
“We’re all happy for (Able). I’m happy that he found a teaching position because that’s what he wanted all along,” NP athletic director Al Cooper said. “We wish him and his family well.”
Prior to his tenure at New Palestine, Able made three head coaching stops.
From 2001-2008, Able coached at Decatur Central. He led the Hawks to their only sectional crown in 2005 before being asked to resign.
Able also had stops at East Noble (1995-2000), winning a 4A state championship in 2000, and North Daviess (1992-94), where he guided the program to one of its two sectional crowns in 1993.
This past fall, Triton Central finished 7-4, including going 6-1 in its first run through the Indiana Crossroads Conference, which sported a pair of schools in Scecina and Cardinal Ritter that reached the Class A and 2A state finals, respectively.
“The conference is difficult and the schedule is more difficult now. The ante has been raised,” Able said of the ICC. “You have to be ready week in and week out.
“It’s a tough conference to play in. The kids understand that and want to take it to a new level.”
The Tigers averaged 27.8 points per game on offense in 2012, relying heavily on sophomore Jonah Thacker, who rushed for 1,431 yards and 15 touchdowns.
Able said he will tailor his offensive and defensive systems to his personnel at TC.
At NP, Able employed different offensive styles, relying on a run-based scheme in 2009 and 2010 before switching to a pass-heavy attack in 2011. The Dragons broke nearly every school passing, receiving and scoring mark in Able’s final season.
Connor Simmons and Josh Penley, 2012 New Palestine graduates who played under Able, were grateful their former coach received another opportunity.
“I’m excited for him to see what he can do at a smaller school. He’s a real good coach and he knows how to build programs,” offered Simmons, who quarterbacked the team in 2010 and 2011 and owns single-season and career records for completions, yards and touchdown passes. “I wish him the best of luck at Triton. They picked a really great coach.”
Penley, a wide receiver who set school records for single-season and career touchdown receptions during the 2011 season, appreciated the “life” Able exhibited on and off the field.
“If he knew you were having a bad day, he would always be someone you could talk to,” Penley recalled. “He always had a positive influence on a lot of people.”
Entering in his 30th year of coaching — he spent nine seasons as an assistant at Maconaquah before moving on to North Daviess — Able hopes TC becomes his permanent home. He interviewed for other head coaching positions before accepting the Tigers’ job.
“This was the choice I was most excited about,” he said. “It would be kind of nice if it would be my last stop.”
Education: Martinsville High School, Taylor University.
Playing career: Defensive back, Taylor University.
Career coaching record: 125-98 in 20 seasons.
Head coaching stops: North Daviess (1992-94); East Noble (1995-2000); Decatur Central (2001-08); New Palestine (2009-11); Triton Central (2013-).
* Guided North Daviess to second sectional championship in program history in 1993.
* Won 4A state title with East Noble in 2000.
* In 2005, became first coach in Decatur Central history to win a sectional championship.
* Won New Palestine’s sixth sectional title (first in 4A) in 2009; In 2011, Dragons started year 11-0 and were ranked No. 1 in state.