On Tuesday, Freedom-South Riding announced Jared Van Acker as its head football coach.
The news hit a day after Van Acker and his pregnant wife, Kim, celebrated their first-born son’s fourth birthday. Kim Van Acker is due to deliver another boy in less than a month.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for me and my family,” Jared Van Acker said on Wednesday morning. “It’s a new chapter in our lives — not only with another child — but to coach up in Northern Virginia.”
The 31-year old coach comes to Freedom after three years as the head coach of the Grafton Clippers in Yorktown, Va. During Van Acker’s tenure, Grafton made three consecutive Region I Div. 4 playoff appearances.
He will continue teaching social studies at Grafton for the remainder of the school year, but will take weekly road trips to watch film, get to know players and monitor the offseason weightlifting program at his new school.
Van Acker said he could not pass up the opportunity to “compete against some of the best” in the newly designated Virginia Class 5A school with conference rivals such as Stone Bridge and Briar Woods, which beat Grafton 30-0 in a AA Div. 4 state semifinal.
“I definitely don’t want to shy away from competition,” he said.
Originally from Geneseo, Ill., Van Acker’s Virginia coaching roots run deep. Before arriving at Grafton, he spent three years as the head coach of Galax in Southwest Virginia and another three years as an assistant coach at William Campbell in Gladys, Va.
As a part of Coach Brad Bradley’s staff, Van Acker helped William Campbell win a Class A Division 1 state championship in 2005.
Borrowing pieces of Bradley’s spread scheme and the Wing-T system employed by J.D. Darnell High School — where he played linebacker back home in Geneseo — Van Acker conceived a hybrid offense.
Freedom South-Riding will roll out a system Van Acker compared to the styles Philadelphia Eagles Coach Chip Kelly used at Oregon and Gus Malzahn will use at Auburn.
Van Acker’s team will use three different “MODs,” methods of delivery, to telegraph plays from the sidelines.
“We’ll have hand signals, we’ll have wrist bands and we’ll also have play-calling mark boards very similar to what Coach Kelly uses,” he said.
When Oregon won the 2012 Rose Bowl, Van Acker watched Kelly respond to questions about his NFL suitors. The soundbite resonated with Freedom South-Riding’s new hire.
Van Acker shares Kelly’s sentiments on success.
“I owe it all to the kids,” he said. “Their hard work on the field and in the classroom and the success that they’ve had makes me an attractive candidate.”