MISSION - Cedric Wildbill is getting back on the sidelines this fall after more than 20 years in the stands.
He has been named the new Nixyaawii head football coach, replacing last year's coach Rick Schimmel. It will be the first time he's taken the helm of a football program since coaching Pendleton's eighth and ninth graders in 1984-85.
"I think it's going to be an interesting year," Wildbill said. "I'm very excited, very honored to get the opportunity to coach out here."
"Cedric is really connected to our community, and of all the people we interviewed we felt it was really important to get someone like that," Nixyaawii athletic director Aaron Noisey said.
Wildbill said the thing that attracted him to the job most was the chance to give back to his community and the chance to take a team in it's infancy and see it grow into a strong program.
He will have his hands full, trying to make a fledgling program competitive in a tough Special District 3 Conference that includes new member Sherman County, which dropped down from an 11-man football program to the eight-man style of SD3.
"We're in a pretty tough league," Wildbill said. "My expectation is to try to get a winning season, but I want to be realistic with it. If we're in a game and it's close, that's good.
"If we can make it to 50-50, that's good," he added. "That gives a chance to make state. I don't want to win at the cost of injuring players."
Another interesting challenge for Wildbill is that he'll be modeling his offense after his high school coach's, Pendleton coaching legend Don Requa.
Wildbill played right tackle, right guard and defensive nose guard for Requa from 1970-80 and will attempt to adapt Requa's classic wishbone and option offenses to better suit the eight-man game.
"The game is about football, which I always thought was power, speed and timing - whether it's eight-man or 11-man," Wildbill said.
Fundamentals will be the key to whether the Golden Eagles take a step forward this season, according to both Wildbill and Noisey.
"I think the biggest challenge we are going to face is learning the fundamentals, learning the basics," Wildbill said. "Like any young program, the biggest challenge is learning the plays."
"I think with the kids we have, them being athletic is only going to help us," Noisey added. "We're still molding the kids the way they need to be molded as far as team athletics."
The Nixyaawii team also brings in players from Helix and is in their third season, and third coach. Schimmel had to leave the team because of conflicts with his job.
"Losing Rick (Schimmel) was big because I really felt like he was starting to build something," Noisey said.
Noisey hopes that Wildbill will be a long-term hire, and stability will be the most important factor in building the team into a contender at the state level.
"Wins are going to come," Noisey said. "Every program takes a while to build. I hope our community and our fans understand that."
Wildbill said he also hopes he can last a while as head coach but that he'll have to play it by ear for at least the first year or two.
The team plays their games at Sunridge Middle School in Pendleton and starts practice Aug. 20.
They are still taking applications for assistant coach and Wildbill said he is interested in volunteers that would be willing to put in time a few days a week as position coaches.