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, after spending nearly two-and-a-half hours in closed session, the Riverside-Brookfield Township High School board voted 4 to 3 to hire Jason Rech as the new varsity head football coach.

The vote effectively ends the 40-year career of Otto Zeman at RB. Zeman had been the head football coach at RB since 1982 and has coached and worked at RB since graduating from Northwestern in 1969. Zeman graduated from RB in 1965.

Board members Dan Moon, Matt Sinde, Mike Welch and school board president Jim Marciniak voted in favor of hiring Rech while Larry Herbst, Sue Kleinmeyer and MariAnn Leibrandt voted against the appointment.

That was the same breakdown nearly two months ago when the school board voted 4 to 3 not to rehire Zeman as athletic director.

Rech, Zeman and assistant RB football coach Dallas Till all interviewed for the head coaching position in recent weeks, according to Interim Superintendent David Bonnette. Those three had interviews with a group that included Interim Principal Tim Scanlon, incoming Athletic Director Art Ostrow and a team of RB coaches.

Bonnette then interviewed Rech alone and recommended that the school board hire Rech as head varsity football coach. He said that Rech, who has served as an assistant coach under Zeman, was the best person for the job.

“He has a well-thought-out philosophy that begins with recruiting in the feeder districts and unifies the program in [grades] nine through 12,” Bonnette said. “He advanced to the top in terms of our recommendation based on a view of the total program.

“This is not to diminish the work that Mr. Zeman did over many years. We felt at this particular point in time, in looking at this programmatically and beyond just the varsity program, that this would be a more systemic recommendation versus just looking at the contributions that Mr. Zeman had made in a very successful, long career as the head football coach.”

Technically, all coaching positions at RB are one-year appointments, and Bonnette rejected a characterization that Zeman had been fired.

“He was not fired,” Bonnette said. “He was not rehired.”

Marciniak, who cast the deciding vote to snap a 3-3 tie, said that he put great weight on the recommendation from the administration to hire Rech.

“I’m very respectful of the thought and consideration that go into any of the recommendations for personnel items that we get from the superintendent,” Marciniak said. “In this case we had a recommendation from our administration that advised that this is a positive direction for the future that would best benefit the students who participate in this program.”