Fort Vancouver football will be getting a fresh start.
Coach Eric Ollikainen resigned after the season, and athletic director Dirk Hansen said he has already heard from several candidates who want the challenge of turning around the program.
“I’m really, really excited about the opportunity to install that person into the position who is going to be a good fit at Fort. Solid in the X’s and O’s and schemes of football and who can assemble a staff that is really going to be able to put Fort back on the map in terms of football,” Hansen said.
The plan is to have a new coached hired no later than the second week of January, the AD said.
“I’m going to do my very best effort to find that perfect fit at Fort,” Hansen said.
He also appreciated Ollikainen’s passion.
“Eric did his best to install a quality football program. Unfortunately, it didn’t equate to many wins,” Hansen said. “Eric is a great guy who I know gave 100 percent effort. It tugs at his heart that he couldn’t get the ship in the right direction. It wasn’t from a lack of effort on his part. The moon and stars just weren’t aligned correctly with Fort football and him.”
Ollikainen, a Fort graduate, won one game in his two seasons — the final game of the 2012 season with a victory over rival Hudson’s Bay.
“I fully agree with Dirk’s vision for the program,” Ollikainen said. “I think he can turn the program around.”
Ollikainen said he hopes whoever is hired will get a job on campus. Ollikainen works off campus, and he said that put him at a disadvantage.
Hansen said the new coach will not come in blind to the situation. Fort is 3-24 in the past three seasons and has not won more than two games in a season since 2007.
“We’re on a three-year plan to turn this thing around,” Hansen said. “We’re completely starting over.”
It will take time, but it can happen, Hansen insisted.
The goal for the new coach will be to “make football cool to play again at Fort,” Hansen said.