NEBRASKA CITY - New Peru State football coach Phil Ockinga is well-traveled having been nearly everywhere and every level in his 20-plus years of coaching. The 26th football coach in school history, Ockinga comes to Peru State from Division I-FCS South Dakota where he spent the last five seasons in a variety of coaching roles. 

"Coach O" as most people know him, had a few other coaching opportunities available to him, but the chance to build something with the current administration at PSC in his home state was too good to pass up for the Hastings native.

Ockinga: "The number one reason I accepted the job is the people. I really liked the people I came into contact with, and I wanted to build something, and I thought [Peru State} had the resources to build."

Ockinga continued: "I'm a Nebraska boy. Only so many jobs come open in the state of Nebraska."

Ockinga and the Bobcats hit the ground running with spring practice, but challenges have popped up along the way as the staff is only compiled of two total coaches currently, causing practice to be divided up between offense and defense.

The first-time college head coach isn't in a huge rush to finalize his coaching staff because he wants to make sure he gets guys that fit his vision for the program, but he did offer a timetable for when the coaching hires could be finalized. 

Ockinga: "I would think that we would have the majority of the staff finalized by mid-May. I want to make sure I go through the right processes through the educational system."

With regards to himself and the players, Ockinga says he, his staff and his players will be heavily involved in the community and have a strong presence in Peru and other surrounding communities as well. 

Ockinga: "I really want to build the community support. The passion of the players for the community. The wins will take care of itself, but I want to set that culture."

In terms of style of play, Ockinga said on offense the team will run an aggressive and explosive spread offense similar to the one he ran as offensive coordinator at Hutchinson Community College in 2014 where he coached current New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara. Ockinga's offense that season was sixth in the nation at 502.2 yards per game. 

Ockinga has been around some of the best coaches in college football including Miami's Mario Cristobal and Georgia Tech's Geoff Collins, but neither of those coaches had the biggest impact on him. 

Ockinga: "The coach that probably influences me the most is my wife," said Ockinga jokingly. Ockinga and his wife Kelsie have four children.

With spring practices coming to a close, Ockinga offered his main goal for the program besides winning and player success during his tenure. 

Ockinga: "Whenever [Peru State] tell me to leave this place, I want to make sure the program is in better shape. Thats a guarantee."

The Peru State football season kicks off Aug. 27 at Missouri Valley College.