There’s a new Ed in town in Bellevue, and his name is Ed because of the Ed everybody knows of.
Longtime Redmen football coach Ed Nasonti played football for former coach John Rich. Rich’s son, Ed Rich, is Bellevue’s new varsity boys basketball coach.
Ed Rich, who is actually returning to Bellevue, believes he is named after Nasonti.
“I’ve known him since the eighth grade,” John Rich said of a relationship that started with five years coaching Nasonti. “He’s a great role model.”
Ed Rich played varsity basketball during his final two years for Bellevue teams that advanced to the regional semifinals. He is obviously very familiar with the avid fans in the community.
“Sports is huge in Bellevue,” he said. “It’s a priority. That’s one thing I love.”
Rich, who graduated in 1998, established the single-season record for field goal percentage as a senior.
“The pride everybody took in their game and in the team,” Rich said of his best memories. “We played with and for each other. Some people can never understand (being part of) that.”
Rich, who is 6 feet 4 inches tall, started at forward along with 6-foot-7 David Falknor and 6-foot-8 Adam Love in the front court as a senior. Falknor is the program’s all-time scorer.
“Bellevue basketball was huge in that span,” he said. “I want to say we won at least seven league championships in the ’90s. The tradition is unreal. I know it’s been down here and there, but it’s got great tradition and I’m excited about that.”
Rich played for Lyle Falknor at Bellevue, and his practices and gameplans at Galion early on were straight from his years with the Redmen. Rich also was influenced by Nasonti and former Bellevue basketball coach Jim Netcher.
“He got on us and let us figure it out other times,” Rich said. “I ran Bellevue’s stuff. The diamond-press. Matchup zone. High-low stuff. I took that stuff from him and then added to it with quick-hitters at the varsity level as the game evolves.”
John Rich coached the varsity girls team before becoming athletic director in the late 1990s.
“He stays out of the X’s and O’s, but he’s excited I’m coming home and following in his footsteps,” Rich said.
The younger Rich coached Galion for the past 12 years, including the past four as the varsity head coach. Galion won 12 games two years ago, which was the second most for the program over the past decade-plus and a sectional game for the first time in several years last season.
The numbers in the summer programs increased through the years.
“We did some good things,” Rich said. “The goal was a league championship. That’s always the goal. We came close.”
Rich likes his teams to be aggressive on defense.
“Not necessarily pressing all game, but making them uncomfortable,” he said. “We’ll run a lot of things on offense and throw things at you.”
Bellevue won six games last season and had 10 seniors. Rich is excited about his inexperienced roster.
“The first thing I want to do is get a major buy-in to the program and working hard,” he said. “We’re super athletic. I’ve got some multisport athletes and some tough athletes. They haven’t had the greatest record the last few years, but they played hard.”
Something, however, was missing.
“It’s really nice to have another Coach Rich at the high school,” John Rich said he’s telling everybody. “We’re glad to see him have the opportunity to be back at Bellevue and home again.
“We have confidence in Eddie. He’ll work hard. We’re excited, and we can’t wait for the season to start. Give him a little time, and he’ll get them going.”
Nasonti kept tabs on Rich and periodically offered encouragement while he was at Galion. Now, it’s Nasonti’s fault there are Eds coaching the football and boys basketball teams at Bellevue.
And Nasonti’s namesake hopes to enjoy similar success coaching the Redmen.
“I’ll always look up to him,” Rich said. “Look at how intense and how prideful he is. You want to influence kids like he has.”