Clear Fork players prepare to take the field.

BELLVILLE — Aaron Brokaw is coming home.

A 1999 Clear Fork graduate, Brokaw was unanimously approved as his alma mater’s new football coach earlier this week. He replaces Dave Carroll, another Clear Fork grad whose contract was non-renewed even though he led the Colts to the Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference championship and the second round of the Division IV playoffs last fall.

Brokaw was one of 32 applicants for the job. Nine were interviewed by the eight-person search committee. Five of the nine initial interviewees were called back for second interviews.

“It’s very exciting and a very humbling opportunity,” Brokaw said. “When you’re a young kid, you dream about coming back and being a part of the program. The program is in my blood.

“To have an opportunity to go back home, it’s a blessing.”

Brokaw played at Clear Fork for Dan Sparks and was member of three playoff teams (1996, 1997, 1998). He understands better than most the tradition in The Valley.

“When you are born and raised on those expectations, it kind of shapes you and carries you through life,” Brokaw said. “It’s super-exciting, but there are expectations.”

Brokaw began his coaching career at Clear Fork at the middle school and freshman levels. He was on the Lexington coaching staff for head coaches Dave Kaple and B.J. Payne from 2005 to 2011 and was the head coach at South Central in 2012 and 2013.

“That experience taught me what it requires to be a head coach,” Brokaw said. “Not necessarily the Xs and Os, but the managerial aspect of it — being a good communicator and getting everyone to pull in the same direction.”

Most recently, Brokaw was on Will Hartley’s staff at Fredericktown. Brokaw teaches high school social studies at Fredericktown and, pending approval by the Clear Fork school board, will teach and run the weight room at the high school.

Brokaw inherits one of north central Ohio’s most tradition-rich programs. Clear Fork has won three MOAC championships since joining the conference in 2017 and has been to the playoffs a Richland County-high 17 times.

“Coach Carroll did a lot of good things. The community is excited about some of the traditions he created,” Brokaw said. “We’ll incorporate some of the things he did and add some of the things I remember from my playing days.

“We’ll take into account what the kids want to keep because ultimately it is about the kids.”

One of the members of Clear Fork’s search committee was athletic director Jessica Brokaw. Jessica and Aaron Brokaw are cousins.

“From an outside perspective, I’m sure that raises some eyebrows, but I was one of eight people on the search committee,” Jessica Brokaw said. “The committee included a lot of longtime employees of the district and supporters of Clear Fork athletics. It was made up of people who everyone know and trust.”

While working for a relative is slightly unusual, Aaron Brokaw doesn’t foresee any issues.

“Whenever you have family involved in any profession, it adds a new dynamic, but she and I are similar personality-wise,” Aaron Brokaw said. “There are some similarities in the way we approach things and go about things, so that is reassuring.”

Aaron Brokaw is looking forward to the new chapter in his professional and coaching careers.

“I can’t wait to get started,” he said. “For me, it’s an honor to be the head football coach at Clear Fork.”

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