DeWitt Clinton will begin its new era of football with Class.
Offensive line coach Dennis Class was promoted to head coach by the school with the blessing of retiring coach Howard Langley, who leaves after 11 seasons. The majority of his staff will stay in place around Class also, according to Langley.
Class, who was also the Governors’ junior varsity coach in his first season, has deep Bronx football ties. The 33-year old played and coached at Christopher Columbus. He also coached the lines at rival Kennedy for three years before heading to Clinton with aspirations of one day being its head coach.
“To be the head football coach at the best program in the Bronx and one of the best programs in the city, I would have never thought when I started coaching at the age of 18,” Class said.
He impressed Langley from a far for years and seeing him up close quickly sealed the deal that he would succeed him.
“At some point he just gave me that look and said, ‘You’re the front runner.’” Class said.
Langley found everything he was hoping for in a successor in Class. He wanted the responsibilities of a head coach, was young and energetic and has an excellent football mind in his opinion. But none of that was what truly earned him the job.
The most important thing in Langley’s mind was Class’ dedication to the kids, how they gravitated to him and his willingness to developing them as people.
“He was about the individual,” Langley said. “He would make sure the kids had breakfast before we traveled. He would go the extra mile to make sure the little things were taken care of. To me that is the ultimate.”
All of that comes from Class’ own upbringing. He understands the type of problems his players are going through. His father left when he was 13-years old and was raised by his grandmother. Class failed all his courses as a freshman at Clinton and transferred to Columbus when he was told he couldn’t stay around the football team as motivation to straighten himself out academically.
He dropped out of high school before eventually earning his GED. Class attended and played at SUNY Canton junior college from 2002-2003. He returned home to coach at Columbus and led it to a Bronx division title in 2006 as the offensive coordinator. It was than that he decided to truly get his life together, with the prodding of Blue Steel coach David Diaz. Class got his degree at SUNY Cortland and he currently teaches Math at Bronx Theater High School.
“My kids know that I made the wrong turn and spent the rest of my life trying to make it right,” Class said. “I want them to be better than me.”
In Class the players get one of the best offensive line coaches in New York City. He helped Clinton reach the playoffs with a line that had two kids who had never played before. He is the second former Kennedy coach to land at Clinton since former head man Alex Vega joined Langley’s staff in 2010.
“It seems like that throwaway is my gift,” Langley said. “I’ll take it every time.”
It’s now Class’ time to shine with the baton passed to him.
“I have been prepping for this my whole coaching life,” Class said.