BELOIT - Ken DuBose may still be stuck in the starting gate, but he's sure chomping at the bit.
"If I was in Illinois, I would have been two weeks into football already," he said. "You get 25 days of contact in Illinois."
The former Rockford Jefferson High School is restricted to just five total contact days as mandated by the WIAA. That's left him to mainly strategize for his overhaul at Beloit Memorial High School, without actually being able to implement his plans.
That will change soon. DuBose and the Knights start in earnest July 20.
"Were getting ready to do football the Wisconsin way," he said. "Trying to put in a new system, it would have been nice to have all those extra days, but we can't change that. We have to play the cards we're dealt. We'll do two-a-days July 20th to the 25th and then after a week off we'll be ready to rock and roll."
Not that the Knights have been sitting idly by this summer. They participated in a 7-on-7 passing league at Beloit College and about 40 have been weight-lifting religiously.
"I'm happy with where we are right now," DuBose said.
The Knights, of course, have a long way to go. They were 2-7 in Rodney Wedig's fifth and final season last fall. While the Knights definitely made some strides under Wedig and sent several of their best players into college programs, their record during his five-year run was 6-41. Two of those victories came against Racine Park in a 10th game that was scheduled following the conclusion of the Big Eight season.
In the five years prior to Wedig coming over from perennially powerful Big Foot, the Knights were even more dismal at 3-42. Once a perennial playoff participant under John Heineke, the Knights haven't been back since 1999. They've failed to win even four games in a season.
DuBose is going to try to do what a long line of Heineke successors failed to accomplish: put the Knight back on the horse.
They'll start with a catchy slogan, or moniker.
"We're going with R-T-L," DuBose said. "That stands for respect, trust and loyalty. We want to respect the game of football. We want to trust the process of coming to work hard every day so we can get better and we want to be loyal to our community and our families. We don't just represent ourselves individually, we represent our community and our families."
This off-season has been one of evaluation for the new head coach. He knew going in he'd have his hands full recruiting the best and the brightest to turn out for football at a place where losing has been commonplace.
He wasn't ready for how second-rate the equipment was for the Knights.
"We have the basic football equipment, but we don't have any audio-visual equipment for the pressbox," he said. "Our headsets are 15 years old. We literally have a dozen footballs. A lot of programs might buy 20 footballs a year so you should have hundreds of footballs around. We're short six or seven uniforms from last year that weren't returned. We're planning on some upcoming fundraisers, including a golf outing in August, so we can afford some upgrades."
DuBose believes football programs in similar situations can benefit from helping each other out. That can be as simple as trade of equipment.
"We received cleats from the Green Bay Packers," he said. "I had a sophomore lineman who needed size-19. We didn't have any, but we did have several size-14 cleats so we were able to work a deal with another team to get him those 19s."
The Knights will also partner with three programs in what DuBose has coined "U-Knighted Project Peace." The event, which will be held July 20 at Beloit Memorial's Jacobson Field is "a multiple community football partnership." Coming together for the scrimmage will be Beloit, Rockford East, Freeport and Chicago Westinghouse.
"Coaches of those programs are either guys who played for me or our friends of mine," he said. "Every place I've been we've gotten together with other programs to promote football. We want to do a joint practice because a lot of those places don't have the manpower as far as coaches. We're all running similar systems.
"I think this is a good way to kick off our season."
DeBose said each program will also undertake various community service projects. The Knights will show their community spirit on their own campus.
"We're going to do a school improvement project," he said. "We're going to do an all-school clean-up. Hopefully, they'll also let us paint. Our goal is to clean-up a lot of areas a that need it nd really take ownership in the school."