Sunday, Mar 1, 2015
Rude Leading Vienna-Goreville to Prominence
VIENNA -- Born and raised in southern Illinois, Vienna-Goreville football coach Mike Rude has devoted his life to coaching the game he loves. In his 43-year career, he's won 200 games at Anna-Jonesboro, Marion, Johnston City and now Vienna-Goreville.
When Rude retired as Johnston City principal and football coach in 2006, he had no intentions of leaving the game.
"The question was, where was I going to coach? I've always thought God has a plan for everybody," he said.
Fortunately for Vienna, that plan included the hall of fame coach. Just as Rude retired, Vienna-Goreville was in the process of bringing football back to Johnson County for the first time in nearly 80 years. Lured by the challenge of starting something from scratch, Rude agreed and became the Eagles' first coach.
"It's probably been the most difficult thing that I've ever been involved in," Rude said. "But it may be the most enjoyable."
Six years later, Rude and the Eagles are contenders in the Black Diamond Conference. At 3-1, the Eagles are one game shy of a school record for wins and more importantly, two wins away from qualifying for the playoffs, something that's never happened.
"They've gotten to the point where they don't go into ballgames wondering can they win it or how bad they might get beat.
"We have developed it to the point now where these kids expect to win."
Part of V-G's success this season is the addition of longtime Harrisburg head coach Al Way. The hall of famer spent two years at Vienna-Goreville when the program started in 2007. Now, after the last three years as Harrisburg's freshman coach, Way is re-united with Rude.
"I kind of took it as a challenge and he kind of presented it that way" Way said. "He said, 'I think you'll enjoy it' and like I said, we're winning right now and anytime you're winning it's fun."
"It's just a pleasure," Rude added. "I mean the man is a hall of fame coach that's won a state championship. So to get to be around him, I enjoy every day."
Together, the two have nearly 90 years experience on the sideline. It's something the players don't take for granted.
"I feel like I'm playing for two of the best coaches in southern Illinois," Eagles senior defensive end Alex Lloyd said.
"They've won tons of games, more than I can even count," Eagles senior tight end Colton Brown added. "They're just good coaches, they know what they're talking about."
Last weekend Rude made history, becoming the 51st coach in the state to win 200 games.
"To know the coaches I've joined, with 200 or more wins, I feel good to be in that fraternity with those guys now," Rude remarked.
And if he has a say in it, he'll be leading the Eagles for many more wins to come.
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