Jay DeCann takes the reins as new LF head football coach

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Former Melrose Area head football coach Jay DeCann will take over as the leader of the Little Falls program this fall with previous coach Aaron Sinclair taking on the Little Falls Schools’ human resources position. DeCann has 21 years of coaching experience, including eight as a head coach.

Jay DeCann will make his debut as the Little Falls head football coach against Hutchinson, Aug. 31.

The next day, his family will move into their new house.

It has been that kind of whirlwind summer for DeCann, who will also work as the middle school dean of students and district activities coordinator.

DeCann initially agreed to be an assistant to Aaron Sinclair, whom he had become acquainted with at coaches’ meetings and clinics in past years.

But when Sinclair, the Little Falls activities director, also took on the Little Falls Schools’ human resources position, he asked DeCann if he would step into the head coach role, with Sinclair serving as an assistant.

“I said absolutely,” DeCann said.

He makes the transition to Little Falls after spending 11 years at Melrose Area High School, the first five as an assistant and the final six as the head football coach.

After growing up in Osakis, DeCann went on to play football for four years at Mayville State University in North Dakota.

He stayed on to coach as an assistant for one year at Mayville, then spent four years at Minot State University and three years at Northern State University, winning conference championships in each of his first three years and advancing to the national playoffs twice.

DeCann then accepted the head coaching position at Montevideo High School, spending two years there before his time in Melrose.

While he doesn’t have any direct ties to Little Falls, “It’s still Central Minnesota,” DeCann said. “That’s important to my family and myself.”

For someone who has spent a good deal of time moving around, he hopes this will be his ending destination.

“I liked everything they had to say and the reputation Little Falls had as a school and community,” DeCann said.

“My wife absolutely loves it here and my two kids are excited,” he said. “We’ve thought a lot about where we would want to wind up retiring and can definitely see this being the final stop.”

For someone with a lengthy resume of playing and coaching experience, DeCann considers the greatest highlights to be the players he has worked with.

“I love keeping in contact with them, see how they’re doing, what they’re up to and if there’s anything I can do to help them,” he said. “Working with kids is the number one reason I coach.”

He will get that chance Aug. 13, when fall practices get under way.

“I’ve been impressed with the strength and conditioning program,” DeCann said. “I’m pretty familiar with the teams in the Granite Ridge Conference and we have great kids that want to do well.”

As for expectations, DeCann plans to keep things simple.

“Part of our philosophy is ‘win the day,’” he said. “Whether it’s in the classroom, on the practice field or in a game, we want our kids to be winners every day. That’s a major expectation we expect to get across to kids Aug. 13.”