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Ankeny High School Names New Varsity Head Football Coach

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ANKENY, Iowa – The Ankeny Hawks have named Rick Nelson as the school’s new varsity head football coach.

The school announced Monday that Nelson will take over the football program this fall, pending school board approval.

“Obviously, we’re thrilled to have Coach Nelson become our new head football coach and physical education instructor,” said AHS Activities Director Brent Buttjer. “He brings a passion for helping young people develop and achieve, and we look forward to him joining a staff with similar beliefs. Coach Nelson will bring a great deal of high-level experience to our AHS program that will help mold our players, our assistant coaches, our school, and our Hawk family.”

Ankeny had the same head football coach for more than 40 years, until 2013. Now the school is welcoming its third new head coach in the last three years.

He replaces Brad Zelenovich, who decided to leave the school after last season to coach at Southeast Polk. Zelenovich took over the program from Jerry Pezzetti who had coached at Ankeny since 1969, before he ended up leaving to become the inaugural coach at Ankeny Centennial.

Nelson boasts more than 30 years of experience as a football coach, the majority of which is in the college ranks. He is currently an assistant coach for the Northern Iowa Panthers.

“I'm excited about becoming the next head football coach at Ankeny High School for several reasons, including the opportunity to coach with my son, Nick, who is currently on staff at Ankeny, and my belief that Ankeny is the best school in the state of Iowa,” said Coach Nelson.  “It’s a great community, and my vision for the AHS football program will be to make a significant contribution to the lives of all the football participants.”