CEDAR RAPIDS — Maurice Blue was in grade school when he realized he wanted to be a football coach.
He wasn’t sure where it would happen or if that would include being a head coach.
After serving almost two decades as an assistant at his alma mater, Blue will take over the reins and become the sixth head coach of the Cedar Rapids Washington football program. Washington announced Thursday that Blue will take over for Paul James, who left in December to take the head coaching post at Linn-Mar, pending school board approval later this month.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity,” said Blue, a 1994 graduate, who earned all-state honors before continuing his career at Coe College. “There’s been so much support from so many people. I don’t have the words to tell them how appreciative my wife and I are of them.”
Blue joined the Warriors as a football assistant in 1998 under James. He became defensive coordinator in 2006 and was named Class 4A Assistant Football Coach of the Year in 2014, helping lead the Warriors to a state runner-up finish.
According to the news release, Blue has coached 23 all-state selections, eight Conference Player of the Year picks, three District Player of the Year performers and a 4A Defensive Player of the year. Blue said he has reaped the benefits of former coaches, colleagues and players.
“This is on their shoulders,” Blue said. “It’s not about me. It’s a product of the hard work of a lot of people. I’d be stupid not to acknowledge that.”
Washington owns a 16-9 playoff record with Blue as defensive coordinator and has won six Mississippi Valley Conference or district titles during that time. The Warriors were state finalists in 2003 and reached the semifinals in 2008 and last season.
Blue also serves as Washington’s head boys’ track coach, earning 4A Regional Coach of the year honors in his first season last year.
“Coach Blue is known for his hard work, passion and knowledge of the game” Athletics Director Grant Schultz said in a news release. “Coach Blue’s commitment to strength training and multisports will be a great asset to our student-athletes.”
Blue has helped 13 Washington teams reach the postseason. The Warriors were 10-2 last season, falling to Iowa City West in the Class 4A semifinal.
“It’s time to get to work,” Blue said. “Do what we can and have fun doing it.
“I’m looking forward to working with the players and families. I’m looking forward to continuing the success we have had and to work to do better.”
Washington’s past head coaches have been Bill Barnard, Bud Rainbow, Wally Sheets, Tony Lombardi and James, who served two tenures. Blue was also an assistant for Lombardi and played for Sheets.
Blue joins James and Cedar Rapids Kennedy Coach Brian White as Metro head football coaches who were on the Warriors’ 2003 coaching staff. He considers James a mentor and White was the best man at his wedding. Washington plays Kennedy in Week 2 and Linn-Mar two weeks afterward.
“Respect is going to be high,” Blue said. “We all come from the same place.
“I couldn’t have been luckier to have worked with the people I have.”
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