Kiel didn’t have to look very far for its next varsity football head coach. He was already in the Raider family.
Former Kiel Raider standout player and current assistant coach David Esswein was promoted to the head spot following the retirement of Mike Dressler last month.
Esswein, a 2012 Kiel High School graduate, played for Chris Bennin at KHS, just before Dressler’s arrival in 2013. He went onto a successful collegiate career at Upper Iowa University, an NCAA Division 2 school in Fayette, Iowa.
The former Raider earned his degree from Upper Iowa in Exercise and Sports Studies before returning to Kiel in 2017. He joined coach Dressler’s staff and oversaw the wide receivers and defensive backs, a key part of the 2019 team that reached the WIAA Division 4 state finals.
“I was in the Kiel weight room when I first met coach Dressler,” says Esswein.
“We bonded immediately. I told him about my background and he asked me to be on his staff. We did an overhaul to our weight program.”

The new look Raiders?
Kiel Activities Director Steve Walsh said the hiring of Esswein was an easy choice.
“We interviewed three candidates. Dave was the only one of the current football staff to apply and the other two finalists were from outside the Kiel Area School District.”
He would not disclose who those candidates were or where they come from.
“It still needs school board approval, but we’re confident this has the blessing of Superintendent Dr. Ebert and the board. It should only be a formality.”
Esswein says he hopes most of the staff will remain.
“Besides coach Dressler, John Campbell (lines coach) will not return due to job restrictions. Dario Talerico hasn’t decided, but I’m hopeful the others will be back.”
That list includes Robb Landwehr, Jay Binversie, Max Feldmann, Derek Campbell and Michael Endries.
Dressler stated that if he would return to coaching, it would be as an assistant and would not be at Kiel as he does not want to interfere with the new Raider coach and his program. Esswein says that his style of play will be different, but wouldn’t divulge what he meant by that but includes what he played in at Upper Iowa.
The new Kiel leader looks forward to his challenge.
“Usually, a new coach faces a major rebuilding. Yes, we lose a lot from last year, but we have several key players coming back and Friday night’s at Fifrick Field are going to be fun again this fall,” he says.
Some changes he will see will be in the schedule.
First off, the annual scrimmage has changed.
Instead of going to Random Lake, Kiel will go to former Eastern Wisconsin Conference rival Kewaskum. According to Kewaskum Activities Director Jason Piittmann, joining the Raiders and Indians will be Campbellsport, New Berlin Eisenhower, Random Lake and Nicolet. Of those six, only Nicolet failed to reach the playoffs in 2019, but the Knights play in the North Shore Conference with state powers Homestead and Whitefish Bay.
Then the two-time defending Eastern Wisconsin Conference champion Raiders will see a little shakeup in the conference with WIAA realignment. The Kohler/Sheboygan Lutheran/Sheboygan Christian co-op program replaces Sheboygan Falls.
“With our great facility and our past success, our kids are really anxious and motivated,” adds Esswein.
“I hope our current pandemic clears up and we have a season.”