Bishop Ryan to replace football coach Brad Borkhuis

Six months removed from the Bishop Ryan football team’s best finish since 1999, coach Brad Borkhuis is being replaced.

Ryan Athletic Director Bryan Kramer plans to hire former Minot State receiver Zach Rudolph, the son of former MSU coach Paul Rudolph, to lead the Lions.

“Nothing is finalized, but we hired a staff member who is qualified and it’s starting to look that way,” Kramer told The Minot Daily News. “We’re going to finalize all of that tomorrow morning.”

Borkhuis, who compiled a 26-14 record in four years at the helm, is not employed by the school oustide of football. Ryan coaching contracts include a policy that allows full-time staff members to replace incumbent coaches.

“They have to be qualified for the position and, of course, interested in taking the position,” Kramer said.

“There’s a precedent. It’s happened actually several times,” Kramer added.

Rudolph, a 2012 graduate of MSU, agreed Monday to accept a physical education teaching position at Ryan, a source told The Minot Daily News.

“The school had to be addressed first,” the source said. “In the negotiations, they offered him the head coaching job. That was the best way to do that, to get a phyical education teacher.”

Rudolph was not available for comment because his contract is not finalized.

During his tenure, Borkhuis turned around a program that had bottomed out.

Ryan finished 2010 with a 3-5 record and improved each season. The Lions went 6-4 in 2011, making the playoffs; 7-3 in 2012, winning the West Region; 10-1 in 2013, holding the No. 1 ranking in Class AA throughout the year and defending their region title. In Borkhuis’ final game, Ryan lost to Wahpeton in the state semifinals.

“It’s tough because of what we built there,” Borkhuis said. “We took a program that was struggling and turned it around based on the principles of doing the little things right. These kids works so hard. Even though I won’t be there, I believe the program will still do well.”

Borkhuis received notice from Kramer by phone Wednesday afternoon. The two will meet this morning.

“It’s difficult,” Kramer said. “Brad’s done an excellent job, but at the same time we have to take care of our staff members. We have a highly qualified person who we think will be very, very successful. He’s coming into a solidified, sound program. That’s something that’s good for the school to, have people on staff.”

The Lions will graduate five all-state seniors, highlighted by Class AA outstanding senior athlete Mason Kramer. The senior class was the first to spend a full career under Borkhuis’ guidance.

“The biggest things he did were off the field,” Mason Kramer said. “For a high school football coach, he put more time and effort in than most other coaches. He was a players’ coach. The kids like him.

“It’s unfortunate for him and for the kids that are still there. We don’t think he deserves it. None of us wanted this to happen. It’s administration stuff, I guess. It’s too bad.”

Borkhuis notified parents via email Wednesday evening of his forced departure. He expects Ryan to have continued success under Rudolph’s direction.

“Please make sure no one villifies Zach,” Borkhuis said. “He was a young guy looking for a job and he is more than capable.”

Rudolph spent the past seasons as the defensive coordinator at MSU. In 2012, he served as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois, an FCS program that competes against North Dakota State in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

During his playing career at MSU, he amassed 1,230 receiving yards and scored six touchdowns.

“I’ve heard a little bit about him, but don’t know much,” Ryan junior lineman Tanner Scheig said. “He should be a good coach, I heard.”

Borkhuis said when he heard of a physical education opening at Ryan, he hoped he might acquire an assistant coach. He received more than he bargained for.

Now, Borkhuis may be looking for an assistant job, though likely not with the Lions. He isn’t sure yet.

“I was 150 percent Bishop Ryan,” Borkhuis said. “But I love coaching. I just kind of have to re-evaluate and take everything in stride and hope the good Lord gives me a bit of light in the direction he wants me to go.”

Ryan Holmgren covers Minot State athletics and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren