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Fritz Dieudonné tried out for the original Quad-City Steamwheelers after his college playing days were over at St. Ambrose nearly two decades ago.

His wife Stephanie, then his fiancee, also launched a corresponding bid to make the indoor football franchise's Deckmates cheerleading squad.

However, their dreams of starring together on the local stage hit a snag.

"She made it, but he didn't," said Cory Ross, the head coach for the relaunched Wheelers. "But he's part of our team now."

Dieudonné is among a group of five position coaches Ross unveiled this week, with the Wheelers opening their first training camp since 2009.

Like Dieudonné, who also coaches at Rock Island and teaches at United Township, two others come from the local high school scene.

Davenport West head man Justin Peters is Q-C's wide receivers coach. Moline assistant Darrick Reaves, a former Wheelers assistant and equipment manager, is in charge of the offensive line.

Dieudonné is tackling his specialty, the defensive line, where he played in college and has coached for most of his 16 seasons in coaching stops around the area.

"When his name first came up, people told me Fritz is the best defensive line coach in the area, and once I sat down with him, I completely understood why people regard him so highly," Ross said.

"Justin I met while making the rounds this fall at the high school football luncheons. He's very knowledgeable, but he wants to learn more. I'm very impressed with his ability to grasp our offense so quickly. He can call plays right now, and he hasn't coached a down indoors."

Ross and Reaves go back to their time together as assistants in Dodge City under former 'Wheelers head man Sean Ponder in 2014. Reaves, who also has coached at UT, previously worked for the 'Wheelers from 2005-09.

"He's so knowledgeable up front, and he brings the aggressive, nasty mentality I want," Ross said of the 17-season vet. "He's also our link to the old Steamwheelers. He's so excited we're back. He came here for the job (in 2005) but ended up moving here after meeting his wife, and they have two beautiful kids."

Also part of the staff are Robert Reed III, a combo linebacker-safety on the University of Illinois' 2008 Rose Bowl team, and Ross' long-time recruiting coordinator from Q-C rival Omaha, Nigel Stephens. Reed is working with the linebackers; Stephens handles the running backs.

"Reed is a young coach who wanted to be part of this new beginning. He's going to do great," Ross said. "Nigel has been phenomenal again helping me find players. He's also a huge help as my offensive assistant, getting the game plans ready and coordinating the scout team."

Ross is focused on quarterbacks as the play-calling offensive coordinator. His defensive coordinator Demetrius Ross (no relation), hired back in October, lords over the defensive backs.

"This is the most-relaxed I've been as a coach, and it's because of the staff that I have," said Cory Ross, who led Omaha to the Champions Indoor Football title game last season.

"Last year, I had to coach several positions. I coached offense; I coached defense; I coached special teams. I was in everything, and that was very stressful for me. But (Wheelers owner) Doug (Bland) gave me enough paid coaches to allow me to step back and let these guys coach their positions and help us build something special here.

"Most start-up teams naturally struggle, but we want to compete right away, and I believe we can do that with the help of the coaches I have."

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