BILLINGS — Travis Rauh, a championship winning coach who spent the past 23 seasons at Townsend, has been named the new head football coach at Laurel High School.
Rauh's hiring was officially approved Monday during a meeting of the Laurel School Board.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for the 47-year-old Rauh, who was a volunteer assistant at Class A Laurel in 1998 and 1999 while finishing his student teaching requirements. In the time since, Rauh was an assistant for two seasons at Class B Townsend before serving as the Bulldogs' head coach for the next 21 years.
"I was at a point where I needed a new challenge," Rauh told MTN Sports during a phone interview Monday. "The last couple years I decided that if there was an opening that worked out and put me in a place I want to be, I was going to make a run at it.
"Laurel is a place I have connections to. It's where I first started coaching. My time in Laurel confirmed that I wanted to be a football coach, and when I saw it open up I thought it would be great to kind of go back where it started."
Rauh was a volunteer assistant at Laurel for two years under Bob Connors, who guided Laurel to a state title in 1999.
In 21 seasons as Townsend's coach, Rauh had a 123-67 overall record with six conference titles and a Class B state championship victory in 2014. Rauh takes over for Mike Ludwig, who retired in January after winning 133 games and two Class A state championships in 21 years as head coach.
Rauh said leaving Townsend "was one of the hardest things I've had to do as a coach. I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be until I was standing in front of the team a couple weeks ago informing them that I had taken another job."
"I've made a lot of good friends here and worked with some tremendous people," Rauh added. "But more and more I just had the feeling that I needed to do this. There's never a good time to leave, but judging where I'm at in my career it was either you do it now or you're never going to do it."
Rauh is the latest head coaching hire in the Billings area in the past month.
Last week, Jason Amundsen was announced by School District 2 as the new girls basketball coach at Billings West. Amundsen replaces Charlie Johnson, who led the program for 10 seasons and ended his tenure with a Class AA state championship victory in March.
Previously, Lockwood High School named Shane Larson as its new head football coach. Larson is replacing Rob DiGiallonardo, who stepped down to focus on his post as an assistant principal.