PORT BYRON -- During his days in a Riverdale football uniform, Guy Dierikx was part of a hugely successful upswing in the program's fortunes.
A key member of the Rams' first two playoff-qualifying teams, in 2000 and 2001, Dierikx has come back to coach his alma mater with the intention of restoring the winning ways he enjoyed as a prep.
"Every place I've gone into, I've been lucky to have had enough people welcoming me with open arms, and they've been like family to me," said the 2004 Riverdale graduate. "But this takes on a whole new meaning (in) being a part of this community when I was growing up. To come back to Riverdale is something special for me. I've looked forward to having the opportunity to do this."
Having coached Louisa-Muscatine to three Iowa postseason appearances in four seasons before leading Davenport North's first-ever postseason team last fall, Dierikx inherits a Ram club coming off back-to-back winless campaigns, forming an 18-game losing streak.
"You don't climb the mountain in one day," he stated. "You set the goal of getting to the top of the mountain, and trying to get there by the end of the year. You also set the goals on how to get there. Do we get better every day, take a step forward? We've talked about setting big-picture goals that we want to try and achieve this year."
Dierikx heads a coaching staff that has plenty of black-and-gold bloodlines. It includes his cousins Mitch and Keaton Jurevitz, as well as longtime Riverdale coach Myron Keppy and Dierikx's father, in addition to several fellow Ram alums.
This year's team returns a pair of returning two-way starters in linemen Blake Haas and Connor Hughes. Senior halfback Brady Secrist also returns to anchor the Ram backfield. In addition, several juniors look to make an impact toward the team's turnaround.
"These guys have a lot of heart," said Dierikx. "The thing they need to work on is their belief in each other. Do not let anybody give up on them, and do not give up on each other. These kids have come out and put their trust in me, our staff, and each other. They're showing a lot of fortitude, standing up in the face of adversity.
"Being knocked down, they want to stand up and try to change the culture, and establish the foundation for a new tradition. We're going to do it one day at a time."