Lincoln North Star is bringing back someone with Lincoln ties as its head football coach this coming fall, while Lincoln Northeast is bringing in a college coach from Colorado.
Both schools announced their new coaches Wednesday, with North Star tabbing current Omaha Benson head coach and former Lincoln Southwest assistant Tony Kobza and Northeast naming Western State defensive backs coach Shane Zimmerman to its top spot.
Kobza has been the head coach at Benson the past six seasons after being an assistant football and basketball coach at Lincoln Southwest for seven years before that. He spearheaded Benson’s first large-scale weight room facility upgrade in more than 30 years and created the school’s all-sport offseason training program.
“We are extremely excited to have Coach Kobza take over the head coaching duties in football,” North Star athletic director Kevin Simmerman said in news release. “He has a great understanding of the diverse culture at North Star as well as the needs that our student-athletes have. Coach Kobza is passionate about football and understands what education-based athletics is all about.”
Kobza, a David City native, played on two football state championship teams under Ron Mimick and a basketball state title squad under Kevin Scheef at Aquinas in the mid-1990s. He says both Mimick and Scheef are huge influences on his coaching philosophy.
"I'm so excited to get started because in talking to the assistant coaches there, we have a really good core of young kids back," Kobza said. "I think North Star is a sleeping giant in football. There's a talent base there. We just need to make sure they're playing football and playing it the right way."
Zimmerman was at Western State in Gunnison, Colorado, for one season after being a high school head coach for 19 years in Colorado. He was at Gunnison High School for two seasons, spent 15 years at Simla and and two seasons at Deer Trail High School.
Zimmerman, a former Chadron State player, has a 107-70 record as a high school coach, reaching the playoffs 10 times. He’s had 12 players earn all-state honors and another 50 named all-conference.
Zimmerman said the Northeast administration, the returning coaching staff and the players he met with convinced him to become a Rocket.
"I was impressed with how professional the administration and how eager they are to bring the program back to its winning tradition," said Zimmerman, a Sterling, Colorado, native who has family in Nebraska. "I met with the kids, and they're motivated to get better. There's definitely some good building blocks there."
In a statement, Northeast athletic director Clayton Heath said, "we are very excited to welcome Shane Zimmerman to Northeast and Lincoln Public Schools. We can’t wait to have Shane at Northeast working with our student-athletes and coaching staff.”
Zimmerman replaces Bump Christensen, who stepped down at Northeast after five seasons. Kobza becomes the second football coach in school history at North Star. Mark Waller came in when the school opened and coached 15 years.