Tom Loughran still wears the Spot-Bilt cleats he won at a Johnny Majors Pitt clinic in the mid-1970s and carries a high school football rulebook in his back pocket every game.
The South Park coach, who completes the New York Times crossword puzzle every Sunday, admits he’s a creature of habit.
So, he wasn’t about to change his coaching style after South Park’s school board tried making a coaching change last January.
“I don’t prepare any different any year for any group that we have,” said Loughran, who returned for his 32nd season. “I do the best I can, and my coaching staff does the best we can to prepare collectively with the material that we’re given.”
Why would Loughran change, given that he has won 186 games and two WPIAL and two PIAA Class AA titles at a school that had never won anything?
But this is the age of school boards making changes for the sake of making changes, believing that they know best. This one tried to use a 33-41 record the past eight seasons against Loughran, despite a 16-0 record and state title in 2005.
Loughran was never given an explanation, nor does he deny his disappointment over how it was handled. After an outpouring of community support, he returned and simply went back to work showing South Park what kind of coach it has.
The Eagles (8-2) started the season 1-2 but have won seven consecutive entering Friday’s WPIAL quarterfinal against No. 1 seed South Fayette (10-0).
“I’m not trying to say that I’m the best coach, teacher, parent or person,” Loughran said, “but I work at it every day.”
Win or lose, South Park should make one change: Consider itself lucky to have Loughran.