Kempf, a 2002 graduate of DeKalb, will attempt to rebuild a team that has had five consecutive losing seasons. The Barons have gone a combined 4-48 over that span.
“I am really excited to be a DeKalb Baron again,” Kempf said.
After graduating from Wabash College in 2006, Kempf, 30, was the head track coach at Carroll in 2007. He then went to Huntington North for a few seasons, serving as head golf coach and assistant football coach before going to East Noble.
Kempf's defenses with the Knights set program records for forcing turnovers the past two years. The team notched a then-record 30 turnovers in 2012 before following that up by breaking the record with 32 in 2013.
He plans to bring the same aggressive style to DeKalb.
“The philosophy in football is simple, attack the situation, be better prepared (than the opponent) and be comfortable with what you do,” Kempf said. “We were never really as athletic as our opponents (at East Noble), but we took a blue collar attitude to every situation.
“We were relentless in the pursuit, we out-hit our opponents … and it showed.”
East Noble surrendered just over 14 points per game last year as the Knights went 9-3.
“We were very special in what we did on the defensive part of the ball,” Kempf said.
DeKalb's new head man hopes to change the culture of Baron football, which is without a postseason title since a sectional crown in 1995.
Kempf has a believer in East Noble head coach Luke Amstutz.
“He will be a great fit because he brings energy, knowledge and hometown passion to a job sorely in need of those qualities,” Amstutz said. “East Noble will miss him.”
Kempf knows that bringing DeKalb back will not be a quick fix, but he believes he has the plan to make it happen.
“We need to focus on being DeKalb Barons, we need to reinvigorate what that means,” Kempf said. “It has lost its luster in the last so many years. The whole goal going into the situation is not necessarily wins, but rebuild what it means to be a DeKalb player.
“My goal as head football coach is to make a young man's time as a DeKalb football player the most exciting time it can be.”