- Feature Story
- George Becnel
- March 15, 2018 - 8:29am
Kevin Dizer has been promoted to the head football coaching position at Riverside Academy.
Dizer has served as the Rebels’ defensive backs coach for the last three seasons and has been in coaching for seven years.
Dizer replaces Chris Lachney. Lachney served as Riverside Academy’s head coach in 2017. Prior to that, he was the Rebels’ defensive coordinator for five years, including the 2016 season when RA won the Division III state title.
“He checked all the boxes that we were looking for. He already understands the culture. He’s been under our last two head coaches. Also, what he’s done with our track program and girl’s basketball program is been pretty phenomenal. We have over 50 kids in our track program now and he took a girls program that had very little participation and he’s got a lot of girls in the program and he took them to the Top 28. We just think he’s just a rising, superstar coach,” said Timmy Byrd, Riverside’s athletic director.
“It seems like all the opportunities I end up getting come out of nowhere and this one certainly came out of nowhere,” said Dizer. “I’m certainly thankful that God has put me in a lot of positions throughout my life to prepare me for this one.
“I have nothing but respect for Riverside. I’m really thankful for Coach Timmy Byrd, Coach Bill Stubbs, Coach Chris Lachney and the other assistants I’ve worked with here. I’ve really enjoyed my experience here and to be in a position to lead the football program, I’m just extremely humbled and blessed.
Dizer, 29, is the first African-American head football coach in Riverside Academy history.
“That’s something I’m proud of but I want it to be clearly known that this is not a job I got because I was black. I would not have wanted them to hire me because I’m black. I think it’s the right fit and the right time. I think Riverside hired who they thought was the best candidate for the job and the right fit. Since I’ve been here, race has never been an issue. I’ve been treated with nothing but respect.”
“That wasn’t in our criteria. I know that’s a first but our criteria was we don’t look at color and that didn’t factor in. It didn’t matter if he was green – we were looking for the right fit,’ Byrd said. “We thought he was the best for our program at the current time. He’s wise behind his years and the existing staff wanted him and the players wanted him.
“I know some people might want to make something of that (race) but I think it just goes to show what Riverside is. Color doesn’t come into play either way.”
Although Dizer has been at Riverside for only three years, his experience with the River Parishes goes back to his high school days.
A player at Sterlington High from 2003-2006, Dizer saw his school lose to West St. John in the playoff semifinals as a freshman. His junior and senior seasons, Sterlington lost to St. Charles Catholic in the semifinals.
Dizer went on to play college football at Belhaven. He served as a graduate assistant at Belhaven for two years before returning to his high school alma mater as an assistant for one year before moving on to Riverside.
In terms of coaching, Dizer said he breaks his philosophy into two parts.
“There is an art to coaching and a science to coaching,” the new Riverside head coach said. “My philosophy as regards to the art of coaching is that it’s all about the kids. The reason I do this job is to see where they start as a person and athlete and where they finish. Our whole deal is to help kids to better for themselves and reach their potential.
“From a science standpoint, I’m not married to any scheme. I believe teams that run the option can win. I believe teams that throw it 50 times can win. I believe teams that play man on defense versus zone can win. I think whatever fits your team and your kids, that’s what you need to do.”
Dizer will be the Rebels’ third head coach in three years. Following the 2016 state championship, Stubbs retired as Riverside’s coach.
Stubbs went 50-13 in five seasons as coach of Riverside. The Rebels reached the Division III state championship game in 2015, losing to the Notre Dame of Crowley 13-3 before winning the title in 2016 over rival St. Charles Catholic 47-20.
He had been out of coaching for a decade and in private business before being lured to Riverside in 2012. Stubbs won three state titles while head coach at Salmen. Under Stubbs, the Spartans defeated John Curtis 12-7 in 1994, Leesville 39-7 in 1995 and Curtis again 31-29 in 2000 to capture state titles in Class 4A.
Stubbs coached Salmen from 1987-2001, leading the Spartans to a 143-40 mark in 15 seasons.
Prior to his arrival as a Riverside assistant, Lachney served as head coach at Pope John Paul, going 20-19 in four seasons before serving as an assistant at Brother Martin.
In his one season as head coach, the Rebels posted a 5-5 record while reaching the Division III semifinals. Playing only seven regular-season games, Riverside lost to the likes of powerhouses like Barbe, Rummel, De La Salle and Newman in the regular season. The Rebels defeated Northlake Christian and Dunham in the playoffs before losing 41-31 to Notre Dame of Crowley in the semifinals.
Lachney is now an assistant coach at Southeastern Louisiana University.
Unlike Stubbs and Lachney, Dizer takes over as Riverside coach without any head coaching experience.
“I don’t really think about the age. I’ve been in coaching for seven years. That’s not a long time but I’ve had the opportunity to work with some really good guys. From an experience standpoint, I’m sure there is a lot of stuff I will have to learn on the fly, but that’s OK. I’ve surrounded myself with a pretty good coaching staff with some guys with experience. I think it’s the right fit for where we are right now,” Dizer said.
“He has all the traits and qualities I look for in a coach,” Byrd said of Dizer. “He’s a selfless individual that is coaching for the right reasons. What I try to do is try to define the guy that fits our program based upon where it’s at at a given time.
“Our program was at a different point six years ago. We need to make a splash and I thought we needed a big-time name coach that had a lot of experience and our target was to go find that guy and we were able to do that with Coach Stubbs. Coach Lachney, because he was hired as our defensive coordinator, was a hired gun and he was the coach in waiting and it was an easy transition. Now, we just feel we need an energetic, young, hungry coach that understands the culture we’ve built and understand the local landscape that we’ve built. Because he was a favorite among the people that are currently at Riverside, he because the obvious candidate.”