【N.J】 Steinert football hires Northern Burlington defensive coordinator Thaddeus Richards as next coach – – – New Jersey News

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For Thaddeus Richards, it has come full circle.

In his first game as an assistant coach for his alma mater, Northern Burlington, the Greyhounds opened their 2016 season against Steinert. Seven years later, his first game as a head coach will be as leader of the Spartans.

Richards was approved as the Steinert head football coach Wednesday night, replacing Dan Caruso, who stepped down after last season.

“It’s obviously been a dream of mine to have a program of my own for a while now,” Richards said. “It means everything to me for the opportunity to kind of serve and put my own personal imprints on a program and lead a program. I’m excited about it.”

A 2010 NBC graduate, Richards had a standout high school career playing under John Reising. He had 50 receptions for 700 yards and seven touchdowns; rushed for 285 yards and four TDs; and collected 112 tackles, four interceptions and four fumble recoveries at defensive back.

After redshirting his freshman year at Monmouth University, Thad went on to make 45 career catches for 551 yards and three touchdowns.

Due to his college background, Richards figured he would be an offensive coach when hired by Reising. Instead, he coached the defensive backs and ended up working under Jule Dolci when Reising stepped down prior to opening day. Dolci promoted Thad to defensive coordinator, where he remained for five years before leaving NBC for Steinert.

“I was working as a student assistant’s counselor and decided I wanted to make a change to a traditional guidance counselor role,” Richards said. “I got lucky enough to get the job at Steinert. It just so happened Dan was stepping down too. I put my hat in that ring and things kind of fell into place. I’m very grateful to (Principal) Bryan Rogers and (Athletic Director) Bill James for giving me this opportunity.”

James said of the hiring, “both Bryan Rogers and myself feel that Thaddeus is the perfect person to lead our football program. He is well respected by the faculty, staff and students. Thaddeus has a very poised manner and a great rapport with the student athletes he coaches. He was the JV basketball coach this past year and did a tremendous job, and we feel confident it will be the same with the football program.”

Despite the fact NBC has not played Steinert in recent years, Richards still has a feel for the Spartans. The Greyhounds scouted them last fall when it looked like the teams may meet in an NJSIAA consolation game.

“I try to stay in touch with all football in Central and South Jersey and I did watch them to know about most of their seniors, and I knew that 19 of their 22 starters were seniors,” he said with a laugh. “I understand it’s gonna be a young team next year but I know there’s talent walking around the halls and I’m excited about what I’ve seen so far.”

There is one positive to inheriting such a young roster from a team that finished 6-4; in that there is no pressure on Richards to win immediately.

“It’s definitely a challenge but I feel like the growing process will be one we kind of all go through together,” he said. “Hopefully that kind of unifies us in it.”

Richards will have his first meeting with the players Tuesday; and already has an idea of how he wants to build his staff.

“It’s definitely gonna be a mix of some holdovers and some guys I’m looking to bring in myself,” he said. “I’ve talked to the staff from last year so we all kind of understand where we’re at. I’ve talked to a couple of my buddies that I’d like to bring on. There will definitely be some Burlington County flavor in Mercer County.”

And he hopes to rebuild Steinert into a consistent force in Mercer, much like it was in the late 2000s and early 2010s.

“It’s exciting to come to Mercer County,” he said. “I know Nottingham, Hopewell Valley were very solid teams, I love what (Dave) Caldwell does up there. But Mercer County as a whole, I feel there’s definitely some room to solidify yourself as a quality football program. The opportunities will be there to compete, we just have to take advantage of them.”

Despite the fact he ran the Greyhounds defense, Richards will have a hand in the overall operation. But he does have a love for D.

“I’m gonna bring in guys to coach each side of the ball, but ideally I’m of the belief system that if they can’t score they can’t win,” he said. “So when it comes to that November and December football, which we hope to be playing sometime in the future, that’s where we really want to lay our mark and put Steinert football on the map.

“My big thing is developing a culture and a system. I look at programs across the state, the Shawnees the Rumson-Fairhavens; they’ve developed a culture that’s taken years and years to fortify. It’s built whether they have 10 Division One kids or 10 Division Three kids. For some reason they’re always in the state conversation. That’s the goal, to eventually get to that level – a culture of consistency.”

That’s the long-term goal; but Richards already has an annual goal that will begin this year and continue for every season he coaches the Spartans.

“Whether it’s year one or year 10, our goal is to just kind of be the best version of ourselves, be smart, so to speak, and all the cliches you want to throw out the window,” he said. “We want to get better and continuously improve as the season goes on. Hopefully we’ll have a championship mindset, and that mindset will be there, no matter where we’re at in the process. But we have to understand that it is a process and we’re not letting that deter us from the ultimate goal.”

Richards is replacing the most successful coach in Steinert history. Caruso had eight .500 or better squads and five winning teams in his 15 years at the helm. He took six teams to the state playoffs and is the only Spartan coach to win a playoff game (he won three).

Caruso still wants to see the program succeed, as witnessed by how he is helping his successor.

“Dan did a phenomenal job,” Richards said. “I picked his brain during this entire process. He’s put me way ahead of the eight ball as far as being a new coach; providing me with all the resources.

“The transition has been seamless as far as I’m concerned. He answers questions and gives me anything, essentially, that I could ask for. I know he put the program in a much better place than I understood it was before he took it over. I’m hoping to fill his shoes, and hopefully take the program to even another level after that.”

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