The wait to find the next Alton Redbird head football coach is over and a familiar face will be taking over the reins of the program.
On Tuesday at the District 11 school board meeting Eric Dickerson was named head coach of the Redbirds after spending the past five years as an assistant for the program. He served as defensive coordinator on the 5-4 AHS squad in 2014.
Dickerson replaces Jeff Alderman after three years at the helm. Alderman turned in an 11-16 record in three years. He remains Alton's athletics director.
Dickerson, 36, a 1996 graduate of Marquette Catholic High School, has 13 years experience as an assistant coach. Besides AHS, he has served as an assistant at Marquette and East Alton-Wood River. He's excited to land his first head coaching gig.
“It's a great feeling,” Dickerson said. “Five years I've been here at Alton High, the last three with coach Alderman. He's been a great mentor and I'm just going to try and build on the foundation he laid for us. I can't wait to get going and put my own spin on it. It means a lot to me that Alton is giving me this opportunity.”
Dickerson, who has served as the head boys' track coach the last four years for the Redbirds, will continue in that position for 2015.
“I'm definitely going to finish out this year as head track coach and once it's over I'll weigh my options from there,” he said. “I'm invested with offseason workouts with these kids. Track practice officially started in January. I owe to them and I owe it to myself to stay with them and finish out this year.”
Dickerson hopes to keep the same football staff as in '14, but he's not sure yet who will replace him as defensive coordinator.
For a program that had seen some turnover before Alderman's arrival, Dickerson understands the importance of consistency to build trusting relationships with the players. He wants to make it a smooth transition next year.
“I think continuity is a key component to keeping the program going in the direction we've had it going,” Dickerson said. “I'd like to bring back the assistant coaches we had last year. It's not going to be a lot of changes. The kids know they need to be in the weight room in the offseason and we'll come together in August and put our offense and defense on the field then, but nowadays you build your football team in the offseason. I think it's an advantage to know the kids and have them know me so they know what I expect of them.”