After three years learning from long-time coach Tim Sperber, former assistant Alex Schnebly is the new football coach at Genesee High School.

Schnebly, 27, faces a tall order in his first head coaching position — the Bulldogs went 1-8 last season and he takes charge in the middle of uncertainties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic — but Schnebly said he’s eager to get started.

“I’ve been (involved in) football all my life, so it’s just a huge privilege to be able to extend that football career beyond high school,” said Schnebly, who lives in Genesee and works as a registered nurse at Prestige Care & Rehabilitation in Lewiston. “It just feels really good to still be in the game.”

Schnebly and the Bulldogs will receive a boost next season in the form of a co-op with Colton High School. Wildcat players will play on the Genesee team in the Whitepine League this year, Schnebly said.

“It looks like we are doing a co-op with Colton over in Washington,” Schnebly said. “As far as my understanding, we’ve got approval from the WIAA as well as the IHSAA.

“So we have two communities that are extremely similar coming together to play football.”

Schnebly said he also hopes to use much of what he learned under Sperber, who retired earlier this year after 30-plus years coaching high school football. The style of play will remain much the same.

“It was an honor. It was kind of like being a (coach with) John Madden in a sense,” Schnebly said of his time with Sperber. “His experience and his knowledge of football is just so huge that I wish I could’ve been under him longer just because I know I’ve learned quite a bit from him.”

Originally from Ellensburg, Wash., Schnebly also spent time in Walla Walla before moving to Genesee, where he came into contact with Sperber. The former coach asked Schnebly if he wanted to volunteer with the team, and he “just ended up loving the kids and loving the community and figured I’d give it a shot when the head coach opportunity (came up).”

Schnebly’s first challenge as coach is playing the waiting game because of concerns surrounding COVID-19.

He said the team is doing a majority of its offseason workouts outdoors in order to maintain social distancing and still keep players conditioned.

“COVID’s kind of one of those delicate things, ’cause injury-wise, we don’t’ want to go into this season where we’re under-conditioned ... where we’re more injury prone, because that can sometimes be a very serious thing for high school students,” Schnebly said. “But at the same time, we have to take those precautions.

“As far as the actual season, it’s kind of a day-by-day thing. It’s unfortunately out of my hands and out of pretty much everyone’s hands. But we’re going to do everything that we can to minimize the risk for the kids to as close as zero as possible.”

Genesee is set to open the season Aug. 28 at home against Timberline.

“It’s just an honor and a privilege to coach these kids,” Schnebly said. “The first year is coming together, so just really looking forward to getting to know everyone and start the season off on the right foot.”

Wiebe can be reached at swiebe@dnews.com, by phone at (208) 883-4624 and on Twitter @StephanSports.

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