WAPPINGERS FALLS – A new era officially began for the Roy C. Ketcham High School football program on Monday with confusion for Wappingers Central School District officials, but enthusiasm for the players.
Bill Roos, who coached the Indians from 1992-2000, ran his first preseason practice in his return as head coach with help from former Poughkeepsie High School varsity football coach Ken Barger.
Barger coached the players through stretching at the start of the afternoon session and took an active role working with the quarterbacks.
However, when asked about Barger’s participation on the field, Roos responded, “He’s not on the staff. He’s a parent who’s watching practice.” He declined to comment further on Barger’s role at Ketcham. Barger likewise declined comment.
Wappingers School Board President Douglass Bitteker declined comment until the matter can be investigated. Wappingers Central School District Superintendent Jose Carrion did not return a phone call or respond to a text message.
Barger is being investigated by the state education department and the Poughkeepsie City School District as part of a district investigation into whether students were given special accommodations while taking Regents exams in January 2013, according to Poughkeepsie Journal archives. His 18th and final hearing on the matter was scheduled for July 10.
Barger, a special-education teacher, coached the Poughkeepsie varsity football team from 2005-12. A 1997 Marist College graduate and a two-time Poughkeepsie Journal High School Football Coach of the Year, Barger was an assistant with Roos on head coach Jim Parady’s football staff at Marist.
Roos, a physical-education teacher at Ketcham, was appointed to the varsity position by the school board in July. He replaced Pat Keevins, who stepped down at the end of last season and is now an assistant at Poughkeepsie.
Roos spent Monday’s practice working with the linemen, something he did as a part-time assistant in 2013 for the Indians. Prior to last year, he was the offensive-line coach at Marist from 2002-12.
“They were great,” Roos said of his players. “The first day was great. It was awesome being a head coach again. The players worked hard. It was a lot of fun.”
The 2013 Indians finished 7-2, winning a league title and advancing to the Section 1 Class AA semifinals. Ketcham lost three Poughkeepsie Journal First-Team All-Stars — Kevin Duke, Roddy Tierney and Cody Levy — to graduation. Duke, who started games at quarterback in each of his four years at Ketcham, threw for 1,776 yards and 17 touchdowns, and ran for 634 yards and five touchdowns in 2013.
“We’ve got to work really hard, harder than we’ve ever worked before,” Ketcham senior Jesse Gruhl said. “The team is hard-working. We’re all very focused and have two goals in mind — winning the league and sectional championships.”
Roos is focusing on the season opener on Sept. 6 against Mamaroneck in Wappingers Falls.
“I don’t have expectations for the season. I just have expectations for them to work hard and get ready for the first game,” he said.
“If we fail to win the first game, we can’t be above .500 until the end of Week 3.”
Dan Pietrafesa: email@example.com, 845-437-4849, Twitter: @PJDanPietrafesa