It was generally understood as common knowledge, but

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

It was generally understood as common knowledge, but actually Feldman had not made it official.

Until today.

Feldman handed in his resignation this morning, bringing down the curtain on one of the most successful _ albeit brief _ coaching stints in the program's history.

Feldman has accepted a position as an assistant football coach under Thom McDaniels at Warren Harding High School, which had courted Feldman the past few months. Feldman will also teach at Harding and serve as an assistant athletic director.

"I've been waiting on a contract from Harding and I signed it (Thursday)," said Feldman.

In his four years with the Ravens, Feldman posted a 23-18 overall record, including a 15-6 mark the last two seasons when he guided the Ravens to back-to-back Western Reserve Conference South Division championships.

Last fall, his squad went 9-1 in the regular season before losing to Akron Buchtel in the first round of the Division II state playoffs, marking Ravenna's first-ever postseason appearance in football.

"I'm very happy with the things we accomplished at Ravenna," said Feldman. "I'm very pleased with the progress our football program has made. We got great support from the administration, great support from (athletic director) Steve Reedy, there was a lot of excitement with the new stadium ... that's difficult to leave.

"But I think we've taken the program to a new level."

A level that many had said was unattainable at Ravenna.

"And a lot of people told me that when I took the job," he said. "They said, 'Coach, don't do it.'"

Feldman did it anyway and became the Ohio Division II coach of the year in 1999, catching the eyes of many in the coaching profession _ McDaniels included.

McDaniels arrived at Harding following his final season at Canton McKinley in 1997, when the Bulldogs won the Division I state championship and were voted national champions by USA Today. McDaniels was named national coach of the year in the process.

"Thom McDaniels is one of the best coaches in the country, and when he calls you and says he wants you on his team, you gotta listen," said Feldman, who will coach offensive tackles and tight ends and serve as offensive coordinator at Harding. "Thom has a great reputation. He's just outstanding. I was flattered that he would call me."

Feldman and McDaniels do have a connection.

"Thom worked for Mo Tipton on Mo's first staff at Orrville, and I was on Mo's last staff at Coventry," said Feldman. "And I've worked a couple of Thom's quarterback camps."

Feldman also had an ally in the administration at Harding: athletic director Paul Trina. Feldman and Trina are graduates of Ohio University.

"After meeting with Thom, I met with the administration at Harding and what was attractive was they had a plan for my career utilizing my degree in sports administration," said Feldman. "That was exciting. It was the first time I'd been involved in an interview where there was some foresight.

"Paul Trina has a sports administration degree from Ohio like I do, so there's a bond there. It's a tight-knit community down there (Athens) and they take care of their own."

Working for a coach of McDaniels' stature at a school of Harding's prestige was simply too tempting to pass up.

"Thom will take the program to a new level," said Feldman. "They expect to go to the state playoffs over there and they want to win a state championship, and (the administration) is willing to give you the resources to do that.

"There's pressure at a place like that, but I've been a head coach and I can understand pressure."

The fact that Feldman stands to receive a sizable salary increase was also a factor in his decision to leave.

"I was the lowest-paid coach in the league at Ravenna and we won the conference the last two years, which took a lot of time and hard work," he said. "We did a lot of things in the summer, our program was year-round. ... I'm just trying to take care of my family."

For Feldman, it's the kids of Ravenna who toiled in the early-morning heat of two-a-days and laid it on the line on Friday nights that he'll miss most.

"I'm proud that we won championships in the Western Reserve Conference the last two years, that we coached some great players and developed some great players," he said. "A good coaching staff makes average players play good and makes good players play great, and I think we did that. That's what I'm most proud of."

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