Outside the Huddle has confirmed that Northrop coach Jason Doerffler is set to head a bit further north in Allen County to take over as the new head football coach at Leo, replacing Jared Sauder.
Doerffler met with his players at Northrop on Tuesday morning to break the news, which had leaked out on Monday.
For eight seasons Doerffler led the Bruins, following in the footsteps of his uncle Buzz and his father Dean, the first two head coaches in Northrop’s history.
While his elders found success with the program with winning records, Doerffler finished his tenure 23-58 while fighting the seemingly-endless battle within Fort Wayne Community Schools to field a consistent winner on the gridiron, outside of Snider.
Doerffler takes over for Sauder, who stepped down to take an administrative position. In 16 years at the helm of the Lions, Sauder went 139-42, with his lone losing season his first – a 4-6 campaign in 2006. Sauder’s career winning percentage of .767 is also the best in Leo history, with Gary Lake in second at .725 when he coached the program to a 29-11 record from 1974-77.
A record-setting quarterback in high school at Concordia Lutheran coached by dad Dean, many believed the head coaching spot at his alma mater, open twice in the last two years, would lure Jason “home.”
Instead, Doerffler takes command of a program that has captured 10 conference championships since 2009 – six in the Allen County Athletic Conference and four in the Northeast 8, including back-to-back titles in 2020 and 2021.
The feeder and community football programs at Leo are consistently strong and loaded with talent, a sizable shift from the fickle situation within Fort Wayne that sees talent ebb and flow based on transfers and the district’s “open enrollment” policy.
But the pressure will definitely be on Doerffler as he looks to elevate Leo from a perennial league power to a team that can make deep postseason runs. The Lions are without a sectional championship since 2011 and have just three sectional and two regional crowns since beginning play in 1967.
The Lions are also a team in transition as it moves forward from a two-to-three year stretch that saw some of the top talent the program has ever seen – including a pair of players heading to Power Five programs this summer in offensive lineman Landen Livingston (West Virginia) and defensive end D.J. Allen (Rutgers).
But there are pieces to build around. The offensive front should still be in good shape with the likes of All-NE8 Second Team honorees Truman Wirtz and Collin Butler. Linebackers Drew Baker and Ethan Crawford are also set to return as seniors, giving the Lions plenty of proven production at the second level of the defense.
Leo currently holds an 18-game regular-season winning streak over NE8 foes entering the 2022 campaign.
Meanwhile, Northrop will look to replace Doerffler as spring football and off-season workouts continue. The new coach will look to end a streak of 18 straight seasons without a winning campaign dating back to 2003.
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