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Steven Fleshman knows he’s inherited a long-term rebuilding project as the head coach of the Caldwell High School football program. But he also knows he’s right where he’s supposed to be.
Caldwell named Fleshman its coach, pending school board approval, last week. And the former Skyview assistant wasted no time delivering his message to Caldwell’s parents in his first meeting this week.
“I chose Caldwell,” Fleshman said. “I’ve been approached by other places. I could have gone over to some other winning programs. But I chose Caldwell because I felt it’s overlooked and has a lot of potential.”
Fleshman replaces Zac Farnam, who resigned in May after back-to-back 1-8 seasons in the 4A Southern Idaho Conference. Fleshman coached on Skyview’s varsity staff for 12 years while serving as the head JV and freshman coach for six years each. He also was the school’s head wrestling coach the past six years.
Fleshman takes over a long-struggling program. Caldwell hasn’t posted a record at or above .500 since 2005, the longest active drought in the SIC. The Cougars have gone 24-93 (.205) overall since then, including 13-69 (.158) in league play, which includes seasons at both the 5A and 4A levels.
But Fleshman points to Caldwell’s past as proof that success is possible. The Cougars made back-to-back state semifinal appearances in 2003 and 2004 under Matt Strong, who also came to Caldwell from Skyview. And prior to Strong, Bill Cooper led Caldwell to a 102-76 record in his 17 years as coach.
“Caldwell is a place that has deep tradition and deep history,” Fleshman said. “I know it has struggled for years. But it’s a community that gets behind you, and it’s a place where I feel like you can get a lot out of kids there.”
With no all-conference players returning this fall, Fleshman cautions the rebuild will take time and has taken a long view of progress. But he’s already laid out a plan focused on installing consistency to the coaching staff, creating competition at every turn and holding his players to higher standards.
He’s already seeing positive signs in his first week on the job.
“We had 83 kids out (Thursday) for a voluntary workout,” Fleshman said. “It seems like there’s a good positive energy there, and we want to keep building on it. We are going in the right direction.”
Caldwell athletic director Jonathan Hallock worked with Fleshman on the Skyview coaching staff and said his ability to get players to believe in themselves will translate well to Caldwell. He remembers Fleshman taking JV teams of just 16 players and steamrolling opponents because of the confidence he instilled in them.
“What people don’t understand about Caldwell kids is they are incredibly respectful,” Hallock said. “They desire to have someone come in and say, ‘This is what we’re going to do, and I’m going to be there for you.’
“Steve is a guy who can do that, and will do that.”