HEAD COACH Denny Dorrel
Contact info for Coach Dorrel
Office phone: 419-358-3636
BLUFFTON, Ohio - Denny Dorrel is currently in his fourth year as head football coach at Bluffton University. Dorrel (rhymes with "coral") is just the 13th head coach in Bluffton football history.
Dorrel came to Bluffton from his alma mater, Hanover (Ind.) College. He was the Panthers' defensive coordinator and recruiting coordinator, as well as academic coordinator, for two years. He was previously assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at both Marietta (Ohio) College, from 2008-11, and Thomas More College in Crestview Hills, Ky., from 2004-07. He was also the linebackers coach at Thomas More.
"In his years as a coach, he has led teams and individual players to great successes in the classroom and on the field," said Phill Talavinia, Bluffton's athletics director. "Coach Dorrel impressed the search committee with his passion, while keeping focus on the student-athletes being students first, completing their educations and winning in both life and on the field."
With the victory over Defiance in Bluffton's 2014 finale, the Beavers moved to 6-4 on the season and 6-2 in the HCAC (3rd place) for their most-ever Heartland Conference victories. The win marked the most consecutive victories in the series since Bluffton won six in a row from 1985 through 1990. It also evened the all-time series at 44-44-2.
Dorrel has played and coached against Bluffton, and when he sought more information about the university from others more familiar with it, "everything came back how great the people were," he said. Coming to campus for his interview confirmed that, he said, adding that when he drove into Bluffton, the community "felt like home."
Home, for Dorrel, is small-town southeastern Indiana, Brookville, where he grew up with his father's discipline and his mother's nurturing—traits he said he will bring to the Bluffton football program. "The main goal is to graduate players, period," he noted, but he also promised a program with players who are passionate about the game and will make a positive impact in the community as well. "Bluffton football is going to be all about family," the new coach said.
A 2001 Hanover graduate, with a bachelor's degree in communication, Dorrel was an all-conference football player and a team captain there. During his four football seasons, from 1997-2000, the Panthers compiled a 37-6 record and three Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) titles, including a co-championship with Bluffton in 2000.
Returning as a coach in 2012, he helped Hanover to conference records of 6-2 in 2012—when the Panthers tied for second in the HCAC—and 5-3 in 2013. He coached several defensive players to all-conference honors, including Jake Stilwell, who recorded a school-record 15 sacks last season and was a finalist for the inaugural Harris Award, presented to the top small-college defensive player in the nation.
Dorrel also coached Marietta and Thomas More players who earned all-conference recognition. In 2006, Thomas More's Mark Carlisle was the Presidents' Athletic Conference Player of the Year, and an American Football Coaches Association all-American. Dorrel's defense led the PAC in both rushing defense and total defense that season.
Bluffton wrapped up its season at 7-3 (5-3 HCAC), improving to 19-11 during the three years since Head Coach Denny Dorrel came on the scene! The 23 victories put up by the senior class were the most since the 2001 seniors went 24-16. Bluffton's third straight winning season under Coach Dorrel marked the first time the Beavers have accomplished that feat since 1985-88! He has directed the HCAC Defensive Player of the Year the past three years with Aelker topping the nation in sacks each of his last two seasons before sophomore Isaac Zickafoose (Middlebury, Ind./Northridge) made it three years in a row in 2016. Zickafoose (3rd Team) and Micah Roberson (2nd Team) were both D3football.com All-Region selections.
Dorrel and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of twins Dexter and Kate, who are 4 years old, and Dylan, 2. They currently reside in Bluffton.