The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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April 5, 2014

COACH OF THE YEAR Coffey turns around Steamers

(Continued)

"It was phenomenal how easy they bought in to what I wanted."

Success came immediately, as the Steamers ripped off five wins to start the season.

Coffey said that once they started winning, they gained confidence.

"He brought a lot of energy," said Cordell Juhola, whose Prophetstown team won 2 of 3 against Fulton and tied the Steamers and Morrison for third place in the conference race. "He's a graduate of Fulton and had a lot of pride to rebuild Steamer pride.

"The kids bought into his system, and the underclass coaches he had have done a good job. RJ was utilizing their strength. That's why they won 20 after losing 20."

Coffey's success came as no surprise to Clinton coach Nick Lawrence. Coffey served as Lawrence's assistant before taking the Fulton job.

"We've known each other for a long time," Lawrence said. "I asked him if he wanted to stay when I became head coach, and he obliged to stay."

Coffey still teaches at Clinton, and has maintained a good relationship with the River King players.

"He'll stop by our practices every once in awhile, and to check up on us," Lawrence said.

That relationship, runs both ways, however.

During the Steamers' run in the IHSA Tournament, many of the River King players came to the games and sat behind Fulton's bench.

"He's still one of us," Lawrence said. "Hats off to RJ at what he has accomplished this year at Fulton."

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