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Riverbend tabs new football coach

By Taft Coghill Jr.

The third time was the charm for Tony DeMarco.

He applied to become the football coach at Riverbend High School when it first opened in 2004, but the Bears hired Drew Seaman.

DeMarco applied again in 2009 after Seaman resigned, but former C.D. Hylton assistant Todd Campbell was selected.

“I thought it was my time,” DeMarco said. “But it wasn’t.”

However, after Campbell stepped down earlier this month because of health issues, DeMarco again sought the position.

This time, he was hired.

The Riverbend math teacher’s selection was approved by the Spotsylvania County School Board Mon day night.

“There was a lot we liked about him,” Riverbend athletic director Tim Stimmell said. “It’s not only that he’s been in the school, and he knows the kids. He came into the interview with a plan of how he would conduct everything—the weight room, the offseason and then how he would attack the season.” 

DeMarco, 47, has been an assistant coach for 27 years, including 23 in the Fredericksburg area.

He began his career at Chancellor when it first opened in 1988.

He spent 16 years there before he joined Seaman’s staff at Riverbend for four seasons.

He then helped Tim Coleman start a football program at Fredericksburg Christian School, where he served as an assistant for two years.

This past season, he was the head coach at Ni River Middle School in Spotsylva ia. There, he coached his son, Jordan, who will be a freshman at Riverbend next fall.

“I think people respect the amount of time this guy has put in,” Coleman said. “He’s been overlooked several times, but he’s more than ready. People in the community know that.”

DeMarco said he’s not bitter about the rejections because they opened doors for other opportunities.

He said if he was hired at Riverbend in ‘04, he never would’ve worked under Seaman, whom he considers a lifelong friend.

He said if he was hired in ‘09, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to coach his son.

“God’s timing is always perfect,” DeMarco said.

DeMarco grew up less than 20 miles from Pittsburgh. After graduating from Elizabeth Forward High School, he enrolled in California University of Pennsylvania.

While attending college, he coached football, basketball and track and field at his alma mater.

He struggled to find a full- time teaching job in Pennsylvania, so he talked to a relative about a new school opening in Spotsylvania.

That’s when DeMarco applied, and was hired at Chancellor.

He’s spent most of his career as an offensive line coach and offensive coordnator.

He said he plans to use a run-heavy attack at Riverbend, but also wants to add elements of the spread of fense.

He’s scheduled to meet with players today, so they can formulate a plan for offseason workouts. DeMarco said the new Virginia High School League rule that allows practice almost year- round will be “a huge bene fit.”

“That should help us get caught up to where other programs are,” he said.

Riverbend was 2–8 the past two seasons, but Campbell guided the Bears to the Northwest Region, Division 6 playoffs his first year.

DeMarco said the Bears must shed the image of being “upper-class kids who don’t work hard.”

“We can’t go into a season hoping to win five or seven games,” he said. “We have to put in the hard work, and success will be the byproduct of that hard work.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526