Coach Chuck Lenahan poses with captains (l to r), Kyle Reisert, John Thomas, Collin Sullivan and Jared Kuehl after the Bobcats won the legendary coach his 20th state championship in his final game on the sidelines. Joshua Spaulding. (click for larger version)
December 02, 2013PLYMOUTH — Saturday, Nov. 23, was a bittersweet day, but one that most everybody on the Plymouth football team will never forget.
Longtime coach Chuck Lenahan patrolled the sidelines for the Bobcat football team for the final time and the team came through in a big way, hanging tough with Portsmouth and then avenging the season's one loss by winning in dramatic fashion in overtime, 21-14.
The four senior captains were obviously thrilled to go out on top as Division II champions, but they couldn't think of another way to send their longtime coach off.
"It's so much greater than it is to us," Kyle Reisert said, noting that winning it for Lenahan was a bit motivator. "He means the world to us, he put so much dedication into this program.
"I'm glad we could make his last game a good one," Reisert added.
"A win on George Zoulias Field is the only way for him to go out," Collin Sullivan said. "A win's a win, but his 20th title was all we were thinking about all week."
"It was a great feeling," Jared Kuehl stated. "We knew it would come down to a close game."
"He means so much to this team," John Thomas stated. "We couldn't go out any other way than winning it for him."
All four senior captains played major roles in the team's season and in the championship win, but all four of them noted that it was about winning for their coach.
"There's no better way to pay him back than to win his 20th state championship," Thomas said.
"We couldn't have asked for a better coach and a better teacher going through high school," Kuehl stated.
"He's had some close games on this field," Reisert said. "It's fitting this one would go in that list as well."
The captains also pointed out that Lenahan's influence went beyond the school and into the community, with more than four decades of service to the high school.
"He is loved by everybody in this community," Kuehl said.
"It's an honor to be part of his last class," Thomas added.
After the Bobcats pulled out the 21-14 win, holding Portsmouth on fourth down on their overtime chance, the players and coaches celebrated in fine fashion. Lenahan hugged his assistant coaches with a huge smile on his face. One by one, players came by and shook his hand and gave him a hug, followed by former players, community members and seemingly everybody in the Plymouth community that was there to celebrate the championship.
That was followed by tons of pictures, as players, coaches and family members posed with the championship trophy and with the legendary coach who went out in style, winning championship number 20 in his final game.
But of course, that leaves a few questions, as Lenahan will finish up this school year as Plymouth's athletic director before retiring.
"I don't know what he's going to do without football," Reisert said.
Thomas had a pretty good idea what his coach would be doing next year at this time.
"I guarantee you he'll still be in the stands, screaming at the players when they screw up," Thomas said with a laugh.
But in the end, it all comes down to one thing for the Bobcats, be it the ones who suited up this year, the ones who suited up in the past or the ones who will suit up in the future.
"It's all about pride and tradition," Sullivan said. "There were 100s of alumni here and it's amazing to be part of that pride and tradition and to get him that championship."
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.