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Raising the bar for Kenmare football

Matthew Hove has only been in town a few weeks, but already he has some impressive plans and ideas for the Kenmare Honkers football team.

6/16/15 (Tue)

Athletes in training... Kyler Melby spots Caden Mau as Kenmare's new football coach Matthew Hove provides encouragement during a weight-training session in the school on Thursday.

By Marvin Baker

Matthew Hove has only been in town a few weeks, but already he has some impressive plans and ideas for the Kenmare Honkers football team.

He should. The new head coach of the team that co-ops with Bowbells and Burke Central, has college and professional coaching experience on his resume.

He intends to use that experience to not only win football games, but to build a solid program of athletes and set them up for success in high school and perhaps college.

“We’re changing the offense and the defense from the past,” Hove said. “They ran the option. This is a spread. It’s the nine-man version of the offense at UCLA.”

In addition, Hove is shifting the defense to a 3-1-5 which, in effect, will have five defensive backs. He says it’s based on the defense that Texas Christian University uses.

“I want bigger crowds at home games,” Hove said. “I want enthusiasm. We’ll have music and games during football games.”

Thus far, the new coach, who replaced Courtney Seime, has about 30 kids interested in playing for the Honkers who are presently involved in some training sessions.

On any given day, Hove said he will have 12 to 15 kids from Kenmare and eight or nine from Bowbells and Burke Central.

“The kids are receptive to the training sessions,” Hove said. “The training sessions are an open field. We do mini camps and different routines. We develop drills for skill sets.”

For their efforts, Hove is taking the kids to the University of North Dakota where they will be involved in a seven-on-seven passing tournament and lineman camp at Memorial Stadium, the same place UND played its football games before the Alerus Center was built.

“There’s 17 other teams from North Dakota and Minnesota,” Hove said. “It should be a lot of fun.”

From there, seven of the players will attend a basketball camp at Mayville State University and the others will be introduced to numerous people Hove knows at Mayville State where he went to college and played and coached football.

Hove grew up in Fairfield, Calif., but played football in North Dakota and after graduating, spent two years as a linebacker coach.

From Mayville he went to Henderson State University in Archadelphia, Ark., where he spent two years as assistant coach and earned his master’s degree.

After Henderson State, Hove went to Europe and became head coach of a team that plays American football called the Argonauts, in Aix en Provence, France.

“American football is the fourth most popular game in Europe,” Hove said. “I had the elite team. They were all adults.”

He spent one season there with a team that historically has been one of the better teams in France.

“I brought in two American players, a quarterback from the University of Florida and a linebacker from Henderson State,” Hove said. “There were three divisions all the way down to little tykes.”

He compared the caliber of the league the Argonauts are in to Triple A baseball in the United States. He said it isn’t the biggest sport, but the teams will draw 10,000 people a game.

After returning to the United States, Hove landed back in California where he taught chemistry and coached football.

He came to North Dakota because his wife is stationed at Minot Air Force Base. He posted his resume in the Minot region and got an email from Kenmare athletic director Janis Gerding, was called in for an interview and the rest is history.

“I take coaching very seriously,” Hove said. “You’ve got to decide early if you’re going to coach football or you’re going to be a football coach.”

He admits a lot goes into building a successful program especially in a small town. He said there is a lot of unpaid time. But, that’s part of the job.

“I’m here to better the young men,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”

And as far as the 2015 season goes, three of the top four teams from last year have left the league. There’s a schedule of eight games with Divide County and MLS having 2014 winning records.

The Honkers will also be playing new teams Tioga and Ray, which last year co-oped and were known as the Williams County Firestorm.

Last year’s Honkers team started out poorly, but came back to finish with a respectable record.

“It’s hard to have a winning record after going 0-4,” Hove said. “That says a lot for the coaching staff and the will of the kids.”

Hove will be assisted by Guillermo Santizo (aka Memo), and Dylan Jesz and John Fetterhoff will take care of the junior high and junior varsity levels.

“My goal is I would like to get into the playoffs,” Hove said. “It’s been a while. If we can beat Divide County, well... I think all of our regular season games are winnable. I don’t think any team has an obvious advantage.”

The Honkers open the season Aug. 22 on the Shiloh Christian campus in Bismarck against the Napoleon Imperials.

But the head coach would also like to build the program so that older kids are mentoring the younger ones. He wants to see the players succeed.

“It’s been a long time since Kenmare has had anyone go to college on a football scholarship,” Hove said. “That’s something I’ve done in every state I’ve coached. If they want the opportunity to play college football, they should get that chance.”

He also wants the team to raise money for new equipment, something he said Kenmare really needs.  And to kick things off, he said the team raised $2,000 at the recent GrillFest.

As the season gets closer, Hove intends to have multiple sessions the first week of practice, then an intrasquad scrimmage Aug. 15 called the maroon and gold game in which Okie’s Ribs will be in attendance and have food available.

“Everybody is welcome to come and watch,” he said. “I’m excited to be coaching in North Dakota. I’m excited to be in nine-man football." ...  Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!