2016 Football Coaches
Dennis McCulloch Image
Dennis McCulloch
Head Coach - 23rd Season

Dennis McCulloch begins his 23rd year at Valley City State and his 20th as head football coach this fall. He also serves as assistant athletic director.

Over his time as head coach, McCulloch has guided the Vikings to a 113-80 record, six conference championships and four NAIA playoff appearances. He has been named conference Coach of the Year six times in his career.

McCulloch enters the 2016 season second on the Viking football all-time victory list behind only VCSU Hall of Fame coach Jim Dew's 116 career victories.

In McCulloch's tenure, 15 Vikings have earned NAIA All-American honors while 40 players have been named NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Last season, McCulloch's team finished with a 7-3 overall record and a 4-2 mark in conference play. VCSU finished second in the NSAA standings, ending a run of four straight conference titles.

In 2014, McCulloch led the Vikings to a 6-0 record in the North Star Athletic Association, an outright conference title and an NAIA playoff appearance. It was the fourth straight conference title for the Vikings, and McCulloch was voted conference Coach of the Year for the fourth season in a row. VCSU finished 2014 with a 9-2 overall record, losing to No. 1-ranked Carroll College in the opening round of the playoffs. VCSU finished the season ranked No. 16 in the nation.

McCulloch won his 100th career game on Sept. 20, 2014, with a 33-21 victory at Dickinson State University.

In 2013, McCulloch led the Vikings to a share of the inaugural North Star Athletic Association conference championship. The Vikings went 3-1 in conference play and were 5-5 overall. Senior running back Derek Elliott broke or tied at least 13 school records during the 2013 season and was named First Team All American by the nation’s coaches. McCulloch was voted conference Coach of the Year for the third year in a row in 2013.

In 2012, McCulloch guided the Vikings to a 7-3 record, and the A.I.I. Conference Title. VCSU was ranked No. 24 in the country in the NAIA Top 25 Coaches' Postseason Poll. McCulloch was voted A.I.I. Coach of the Year by his peers in 2012.

The Vikings finished the 2011 campaign 9-2, and qualified for the NAIA National Playoffs for the third time under Coach McCulloch. After posting nine straight victories, the Vikings finished the regular season ranked No. 12 in the country. Coach McCulloch also added another DAC championship to his tenure finishing 6-0 in the conference, and he was named Coach of the Year.

The 2005 Vikings captured the Dakota Athletic Conference crown by posting a 6-1 conference record – sharing the title with Dickinson State. McCulloch earned DAC Coach of the Year honors in 2005.

McCulloch's 2000 and 2001 Vikings completed impressive 9-2 seasons, capturing a share of the 2000 DAC-10 championship and making the NAIA National Playoffs in both seasons. As a result of his efforts, McCulloch was named the DAC-10 Coach of the Year in 2000.

Prior to becoming the head coach, McCulloch compiled a 9-1 regular season record and a NDCAC championship in his third season as the defensive coordinator with the Vikings in 1996.

A native of Milbank, S.D., McCulloch received his Bachelor's Degree from Northern State and went on to receive his Master of Science Degree from NSU in 1989. In McCulloch's time at Northern State, he developed a diverse background of experience while coaching linebackers, defensive line, defensive backs and working as the recruiting coordinator.

In 1993, McCulloch became the head football coach at Frazee (Minn.) High School and before coming to VCSU as the defensive coordinator in 1994. McCulloch's 1996 defense finished the season ranked No. 2 in NAIA scoring defense, captured a conference championship and qualified for the NAIA Playoffs.

McCulloch became the 22nd head football coach in Valley City State history in December of 1996.

Dennis and his wife Lisa, have three children: Ryan, a VCSU and NDSU alum; Meghan, a VCSU alum; and Alexa, a VCSU student.

Gregg Horner Image
Gregg Horner
Assistant Head Coach - 23rd Season

Gregg Horner begins his 23rd year in the Viking program, once again serving as the Assistant Head Coach and Defensive Coordinator for the 2016 campaign.

Horner was named the 2012 Assistant Coach of the Year in NAIA Football, presented by the American Football Coaches Association. The award was created to honor assistant coaches who excel in community service, commitment to the student-athlete, on-field coaching success and AFCA professional organization involvement.

On the field, Horner helped the Vikings to four straight conference championships from 2011 to 2014.

In 2015, VCSU's defense ranked 7th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 17.1 points per game. The Vikings were also 11th in pass defense efficiency and 25th in pass defense per game, allowing just 188 passing yards per game.

The 2014 defense ranked 3rd in the nation in pass defense efficiency, 6th in pass defense per game (149.5 yards), 20th in scoring defense (22 points/game) and 24th in the nation in total defense per game (332 yards). The Vikings held opponents to 17 or fewer points in six games, and three times held opponents to 10 points or less. VCSU's 2014 defense led the NSAA in total scoring defense per game, pass defense per game and total defense per game.

In 2013, Horner led the Viking defense that ranked 7th in the nation in pass defense, allowing just 152 passing yards a game. The Vikings ranked 24th in scoring defense per game, allowing 23.5 points per contest.

In 2012, his defense helped the Vikings to a 7-3 record and recorded two shutouts in 16-0 and 27-0 wins over Gustavus Adolphus and Lindenwood-Belleville. Nose guard Aaron Freije was named Co-A.I.I. Defensive Player of the Year.

Horner’s defense helped the team to a 9-2 record in 2011. Coach Horner tutored defensive lineman Jordan Maher, who earned the DAC’s Most Valuable Senior award and also the Defensive MVP award for the AII.

As a coach at VCSU, Horner has been a part of seven conference championships and five national playoff appearances. His defenses finished No. 1 in both scoring defense and total defense in the DAC-10 in 2000 and 2001, and have produced six NAIA All-Americans and dozens of All-Conference performers and NAIA Scholar-Athletes.

Since becoming the defensive coordinator, the Horner-led defense has set 16 team or individual school records.

The Fargo native is a 1990 graduate of VCSU and a member of the 1988 squad that captured a NDCAC title and an NAIA Playoff berth. Gregg was also selected as the VCSU Student Senate President in 1989. He spent one season as a student assistant coach at VCSU working with the defensive line under former head coach Jim Dew.

Following graduation, Gregg moved on to spend two years as an assistant coach and social science teacher at Gardner-Edgerton High School in Gardner, Kansas.

Getting the opportunity to get back into the college game, he earned his Masters degree while serving as a graduate assistant coach at South Dakota State from 1992-94.

In 1994, Gregg returned to VCSU where he served as the defensive line coach and Director of Student Activities.

In 1996, he was named the Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Football Coach.

Gregg is also a lecturer in the Health Physical Education department at VCSU. Gregg and his wife Kathleen have two children, Iain and Maren.

John O'Day Image
John O'Day
Assistant Coach - 6th Season

The 2016 season will mark Coach John O'Day's sixth year at Valley City State University and his third season as co-offensive coordinator.

After serving as a position coach for his first three seasons, O'Day was promoted to Co-Offensive Coordinator for the 2014 season. He assumed his new responsibilities in March, 2014.

VCSU's offense in 2015 ranked 29th in the nation in passing yard per game (223) and 36th in total yards per game (392). Viking quarterback Kurtis Walls set a new school record with 498 passing yards against Jamestown on Aug. 29. The Vikings finished with a 7-3 record and took second in the NSAA.

The 2014 Viking offense set seven new season or single-game school records as VCSU went 9-2, won its fourth straight conference championship and qualified for the NAIA playoffs. Viking quarterback Kurtis Walls was named the NSAA Offensive Most Valuable Player after passing for a school-record 35 touchdowns and 2,774 yards

The 2014 Vikings ranked 11th in the NAIA in scoring offense at 36.5 points per game. VCSU's offense ranked 4th in pass efficiency, 10th in pass offense (275 yards/game), 11th in total pass offense (3032 yards), 13th in total offense per game (428.5 yards) and 14th in total scoring offense (401 points).

O'Day coached the Vikings wide receivers in 2012 and 2013 and was the running backs coach for the 2011 campaign. In 2011, O'Day mentored running back A.J. Pfeifer to both the All DAC and AII teams. Pfeifer rushed for 1,115 yards in 2011, capping off a great career with the Vikings. O'Day also worked as special teams coordinator in 2012 and 2013, during which kicker Thomas Cortez was twice named First Team All Conference.

Prior to joining the Vikings football program, O'Day spent the previous six years coaching with the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse while he finished his degree. While at La Crosse, O'Day coached a variety of positions including wide receivers, kickers, linebackers, and defensive backs. UW-La Crosse finished the 2010 season with the No. 2-ranked defense in the WIAC. In 2006, UW-La Crosse qualified for the NCAA Division III playoffs. O'Day also served as the video coordinator during his tenure with La Crosse.

Coach O Day began his coaching career in 2004 at his alma mater, Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School. After spending one season coaching at the high school he moved to La Crosse to finish his bachelor's degree.

Along with coaching at VCSU, O'Day works in the housing department as a Head Resident. John and his wife Jessica were married in the summer of 2014.

Jason Kremer Image
Jason Kremer
Assistant Coach - 3rd Season

Jason Kremer is in his third season as an assistant coach at Valley City State University.

A native of Eau Claire, Wis., Kremer primarily serves as the offensive line coach at VCSU, along with handling various other duties.

Two Viking offensive linemen earned All Conference honors during the 2015 season as Landon Freitas was named 1st Team All Conference and Lex Tande was named to the 2nd Team. The Vikings allowed just nine sacks all season, which was 5th best in the nation. VCSU was also 41st in the nation in rushing yards at 169 per game.

In 2014, the Viking offensive line had three players earn All Conference honors – senior George Trujillo, junior Landon Freitas and freshman Avery Lock.

Following high school in Wisconsin, Kremer went on to play offensive line collegiately for University of Minnesota-Crookston. After his college playing career was complete, Kremer moved to the sidelines, working as an assistant coach in various capacities for Minnesota-Crookston from 2005 to 2011.

While coaching at Crookston, Kremer gained experience coaching every position on the offensive side of the ball.

Jason and his wife Heather were married in the summer of 2016.

Erik Matth Image
Erik Matth
Assistant Coach - 1st Season

Erik Matth enters his first season as an assistant coach at Valley City State University. His primary responsibility will be coaching the quarterbacks.

Before joining the VCSU staff this summer, Matth worked two years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Concordia University in Ann Harbor, Mich. – and NAIA school.

Prior to Concordia, Matth served as wide receivers coach at Illinois College during the most successful two year stretch in school history, which included a 17-4 record and the school’s first ever NCAA Division 3 Playoff berth after the 2011 season. In both seasons the Blueboy offense ended the season ranked eighth nationally in total offense and set school records in points and yardage per game.

Matth spent the 2010 season at Concordia University-Chicago as wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. The Cougar offense ended the season ranked 4th nationally in total offense. Matth has also coached at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Ore.

Matth earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Luther College in 2007 and his master’s degree in social science from Concordia University – Chicago in 2009.

Erik and his wife Kate were married in 2013 and reside in Valley City.

Dave Rausch Image
Dave Rausch
Assistant Coach - 30th Season
Alma Mater: Valley City State University

How does an individual become an icon? Well, the progression is something like this: become a starting linebacker, become an All-American, lead your team to an undefeated 9-0 season, be named All-American again, join the coaching staff, become inducted into the VCSU Vikings Hall of Fame, and have your number retired. The icon in reference here is Dave Rausch. “Rouper” has been involved with the Vikings for more than 30 years as a player, supporter, and coach.

The West Fargo native came to VCSU in the fall of 1974. Dave earned All-American honors as a linebacker for the Vikings in 1976 and 1977. During the 1976 season, Rausch helped lead VCSU to an undefeated 9-0 season and a trip to the NAIA playoffs. That same year, Rausch logged 122 assisted tackles which still stands as the top single season performance of all time at VCSU. Rausch’s 163 total tackles in 1976 places him second all-time for total season tackles. He logged 147 total tackles in 1977, and from a total career perspective, Rausch is fourth all-time with 310 total tackles and first all time with 230 assisted tackles. Under his guidance, Rouper saw linebackers Ben Aarestad, Josh Kasowski, and Kevin Strang break his school record for tackles in a career eclipsing his record of 310.

Rausch would graduate from VCSU in 1978. He took employment at Grotberg Electric where he was an accountant until 1997. Shortly after his departure from Grotberg, Rausch opened his own branch of Raymond James Financial Services Incorporated. In 1986, Rausch also began roaming the sidelines for the Vikings coaching linebackers. The 2016 season will be Raush's 31st with the Vikings coaching staff. In addition, Rausch was inducted into the VCSU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1988.

His coaching tenure has gone through three coaching changes. Coach Jim Dew, who Rausch played for, was the 1st head coach “Roop” experienced. Dew, the all-time winningest coach in Viking history said, “Dave Rausch is the most dedicated athlete I have ever coached. A leader on and off the field, Dave benched 410 lbs. the first day of practice in 1977. That year he was first team All-American linebacker and the first Defensive Player of the Week ever selected by the NAIA. I think you could truly say that Dave Rausch has devoted his life to Viking Athletics by giving his time, talents and resources over the past 30-plus years.”

Dennis McCulloch inherited the infectious Dave Rausch as part of his staff in 1997. “Every day we are blessed to have Coach Rausch’s energy and dedication within our program. Whenever I think of Viking Pride, I think of “Roop”, said McCulloch.

In a ceremony on September 28, 2007, Dave Rausch became the first VCSU Football player to ever have his jersey retired. He is also heavily involved  the VCSU Football alumni club – The Oarsmen – that is responsible for raising thousands of dollars each year for football scholarships.

Nate Pecoraro Image
Nate Pecoraro
Grad Assistant - 5th Season

Nate Pecoraro returns to the Viking coaching staff this season for his third year as a graduate assistant. He is in charge of coaching the Viking defensive line.

A former defensive tackle with the Vikings, Pecoraro was a student assistant at VCSU in 2010 and 2011, and was a defensive assistant in 2012.

A native of Big Lake, Minn., Pecoraro was a four-year starter on the defensive line while he played for the Vikings from 2001-2005. In his senior season he recorded 40 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, and recovered 4 fumbles.

He returned to VCSU as a student assistant in 2010 and helped the Vikings to the NAIA National Playoffs in 2011.

Pecoraro graduated from VCSU with an undergraduate degree in physical education. He is currently pursuing a masters in technology education.

James Gaynor Image
James Gaynor
Student Assistant - 2nd Season

A VCSU football alum, Gaynor is entering his second season as a student assistant for the Vikings.

He will serve as running backs coach and special teams coordinator for the 2016 season.

Gaynor played wide receiver for the Vikings in 2012 and 2013. In 2013 he recorded 39 catches for 357 yards and a touchdown. He also racked up 519 return yards in his two years at VCSU. Gaynor holds the VCSU single-season record for punt return average after racking up 35.5 yards per return during the 2012 season.

After completing his playing career at VCSU, Gaynor worked one season as the offensive coordinator for Gila Ridge High School in Arizona.

Lenzel Koskela Image
Lenzel Koskela
Student Assistant - 1st Season
Landon Freitas Image
Landon Freitas
Assistant Coach - 1st Season
Alma Mater: Valley City State University
Gustavo Ramirez Image
Gustavo Ramirez
Assistant Coach - 1st Season
Alma Mater: Valley City State University