FOOTBALL: Northwestern hires Small as next coach

Jan. 12—Caleb Small knew he wanted to lead a football team well before his playing days were over.

Now, he's getting his chance.

Small was named the next Northwestern Tigers football coach Thursday night, during a Northwestern School Board meeting. He replaces Rob Patchett, who went 5-24 in three seasons.

Small comes to Northwestern by way of Ben Davis High School, where he spent five years, mostly as the offensive coordinator. The Ben Davis Giants won last year's 6A title

He's looking forward to his first crack at being head coach.

"I knew I wanted to be a head football coach in high school," he said.

Small played at Hamilton Heights. As a senior, he was the quarterback on a team that won the Mid-Indiana Conference championship and finished 8-3.

Small will lead the Tigers into a new era of football as members of the Three Rivers Conference. Northwestern is leaving the Hoosier Conference for Three Rivers, in all sports, after this school year.

Small said it was the community and its desire to build a program the right way that won him over.

"I wanted to make sure it was the right fit," he said. "When I got here it felt like the fit was perfect. I felt the calling. It's something I've always wanted to do, build a program the right way."

What is the right way for Small?

Treating people with respect and reaching one's potential.

High school principal Tim Shoaff said Small's character and personality shined through during interviews, and it's just what the players need.

"We think he can take it to the next level," Shoaff said.

The Tigers have suffered seven straight losing seasons. They had four different coaches during that stretch.

Small got his coaching start at Noblesville as an assistant coach. He was offensive coordinator for two years. Small spent five seasons with the Millers.

Small was a three-sport athlete. He played baseball and football at Marian University and was part of the 2012 football team that won a national championship.

Small will also teach weight lifting and physical education at Northwestern. He will start at the end of this month.

Spencer Durham can be reached at 765-454-8598, by email at or on Twitter at @Durham_KT.