GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — This past February, the West Catholic football program took a leap for a new head coach that not many Falcons were familiar with.
Three games into the 2022 season, Falcons fans are cheering Landon Grove and his team on to an undefeated start.
West Catholic (3-0) has started with wins over powerhouse Edwardsburg, Ferndale and OK Blue rival Spring Lake. The Falcons have a full head of steam heading into Holland Christian, and it’s all led by the new face on campus.
“We brought back some staff members and we also have quite a few new guys and they’ve been super receptive from the get-go,” Grove said. “We put some standards up to them that they haven’t been held to here in a little bit and they didn’t flinch.
“It’s real love here between the players and coaches and it’s easy for us with kids this great.”
This is the fourth time in eight years the Falcons have had a new coach, which seems odd for a school that has done so much winning at the local and state level. But right now, all of the players, including senior leader and Air Force commit Tim Kloska, said Grove has been nothing but spectacular with the team.
“(Grove) has been awesome and easy for most of us to transition into his style of coaching,” Kloska said. “He’s wants to win and that’s what we want to do, he truly believes in our group and that means a lot when you’re on the field together every day.”
Grove was coaching on the east side of the state at Gibraltar Carlson, guiding his team to a 9-2 record in 2021. He felt like Gibraltar Carlson was home, but elected to make a change for his wife, who got a job in Caledonia at a dentist office after getting her degree from Michigan. When the West Catholic job opened up, he didn’t even think twice about going for it.
“I got my name into the candidates for the head coaching job (at West Catholic) really late,” Grove said. “I was fortunate enough to get hired and honestly after taking a leap of faith with my wife to leave where we were at, we both couldn’t be happier to be where we are at now.”
Grove played football at Ferris State as a tight end from 2013 to 2017. He also coached at Elkhart High School in Indiana in 2020 after coaching two seasons with Elkhart Central.
While he may be new to the program, he believes not winning a state championship since 2017 at a school with a history like West Catholic is a “drought.” From 2012 to that 2017 season, the Falcons had won five state titles consecutively.
Since he’s arrived, he has attempted to hold his players to a higher playing level. So far, they’ve responded well with two wins by 25 or more points in a row.
“It means a lot to our kids and this community to start 3-0,” Grove said. “They’re not taking this lightly, I’ve had to give them some tough love but it’s only made our relationships grow.”
While winning is important, Grove’s favorite part about becoming a Falcon is the commitment its alumni and fans have to the program. Whether it was food for the kids, parents volunteering or other acts of kindness, it is unlike any place he’s ever been.
“I’ve never been to a place where if you need something, you have endless amounts of people wanting to give it to you,” Grove said. “Whether it be help running lower level games, the father-son retreat, mom’s taking kids from practices to team dinners, it’s a special place and you can tell why it means so much to a lot of people.”