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December 19, 2018

5/4/2018 1:33:00 PM
NB football coach Sam Ferraro departing for hometown Rangers

After four years at the helm of North Branch’s football program, Head Coach Sam Ferraro is moving on to become the next head coach at  his alma mater, Forest Lake High School.

Ferraro leaves with a 13-27 record over four years, and although that record seems middling, it indicates  success that hasn’t been seen in the program since the early 2000’s. Coach leaves on a high note, also, as the Vikings went 7-3 last year and earned a berth in the section championship game, their best season in nearly 15 years. They fell just short against eventual state runner up Cloquet in the title game.

That Ferraro would leave is a surprise to many;  but as he put it, there was only one job in the state that would convince him to leave North Branch, and it happened to be Forest Lake.

Ferraro grew up in that city, and competed in four sports for the Rangers. In fact, Ferraro bought his childhood home from his mother and currently resides in Forest Lake in the house he grew up in, so he has deep ties to the community. When he was hired as North Branch’s coach, he even noted the proximity to Forest Lake and that the town reminded him a lot of Forest Lake, so his hometown was never far from his mind.

Ferraro said it was a very tough decision to make, as he wanted to keep building on the progress he’s made at North Branch, but ultimately, the ties were too strong for him to pass up.

“That’s my home, that’s where I grew up and where I live now,” he said somberly.

It’s a bittersweet ending for Ferraro at North Branch. He’s clearly excited to begin coaching the Rangers, but equally as pained to be leaving behind North Branch.

“I gave everything I had to this program and school and I’ll forever be a Viking. I am honored to have coached with great coaches and great kids,” he said. “We went through a lot of growing pains, but it paid off this last year, and I hope I had a little something to do with the great leadership that our players displayed on and off the field.”

Forest Lake may have been drawn to Ferraro because of his work with the Vikings. The Rangers have been in a long term rut with results on the field, much like North Branch was when Ferraro took over before the major turnaround this season.

North Branch Activities Director Matt Lattimore was sad to see Ferraro go, but wished him well with the Rangers. “We are so grateful to Coach Ferraro for his service to North Branch Area High School football for the past several years and wish him the very best in the future,” Lattimore said.

He also noted that the search for Ferraro’s replacement began immediately. There are some potential candidates on the staff already, as offensive coordinator Dan Johnson has previous experience as a head coach in Big Lake and the offense was a major force in NB’s turnaround this year.

Now that he’s taking over in Forest Lake, though, Ferraro echoed similar sentiments from four years ago when he took over at North Branch. “We’re going to do the little things right and get back to the basics at Forest Lake,” he said. “We’re going to get better at technique. It’s been a good formula and we’ll stick with it. These kids are going to do well in the classroom and the community.”

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