Canton High School hires new football coach

 Canton High School hires new football coach

New Canton football coach Casey Bess.

Canton High School announced the hiring of Casey Bess as its new football coach — just the third head football coach at the school in the past 25 seasons.

Bess succeeds Andrew LaFata, who resigned following the 2022 season. Bess has been a football coach and teacher for the past 12 years at Battle Creek Central, where he set several school passing records as the team’s quarterback before graduating in 2004.

Bess most recently served as the offensive coordinator for the Bearcats, who regularly averaged 30 points per game and made the MHSAA playoffs in 2018 and 2022. The Chiefs’ new coach is the son of Hall of Fame football coach Doug Bess.

“I am very, very excited,” Bess said during a Monday night phone interview. “Canton has a storied program. When I saw that job was open, I immediately thought it was the best job open in the state. Battle Creek has been my home since I was young — I grew up on the sidelines at C.W. Post Stadium when my dad was coaching — so I’ll miss it and the students I’ve been working with, but change is good. I can’t wait to meet the student-athletes at Canton and the rest of the community.”

Stick with run-heavy offense?

When asked if he would continue to utilize the run-heavy full-house “T” offensive formation Canton has utilized effectively since Tim Baechler took over the program in 1999, Bess chuckled.

“That’s a hot topic, right?” he said. “Obviously, Canton has been very successful running it the past several years. I’ve always been a spread (offense) guy. I don’t have a coaching staff yet, so we’ll see what happens.”

Bess, who was hired Feb. 3, taught social studies and physical education at Battle Creek Central. He said he hasn’t secured a teaching job yet in southeast Michigan, “but we’ll figure that out.”

“Just about every district in the state needs teachers now, so I’m confident I’ll be able to find a job,” he said. “Ideally, it will be at Canton High School, but I’m sure I’ll be able to find something relatively close if not at Canton.”

Bess graduated from BCC in 2004 before earning a Bachelor of Science in Education from Central Michigan University. He holds teaching endorsements in Secondary Education 6-12 social studies and physical education.

Innovative leader

Bess is known for his innovative game strategies, dynamic player development programs and unwavering commitment to creating a winning culture, a release on the Canton High School athletics website said.

“He brings passion and energy to the field and his players respond with their best effort and performance,” the statement added.

Canton opens the 2023 season Aug. 25 against Temperance Bedford, according to

Ed Wright

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