By FRED KRONER
The record reflects the successes Mahomet-Seymour football enjoyed during Keith Pogue’s 11-year tenure as head coach.
He was the third successive Bulldog football coach — a span covering 48 consecutive seasons through 2018 — to maintain a tradition in which the career winning percentage for the trio of coaches is at least 63 percent.
What is more important to current and former athletes than the scoreboard results are the values and life lessons instilled by Pogue with football as the platform.
“The wins and losses won’t matter down the road,” senior running back Dylan Gates said, “but the positive impact Coach Pogue made on all of his players surely will.“
Those lessons will be taught by someone else next season.
A Friday press release from the school district read, in part, “Mahomet-Seymour High School would like to announce the resignation of Keith Pogue as the Bulldogs Head Football Coach.”
When asked to talk about the decision Friday night, Pogue responded, “I will have no comment at this time.”
Mahomet-Seymour athletic director Matt Hensley praised Pogue, who devoted nearly a quarter of a century to working with the M-S football program. He was a staff assistant for 12 years and the head coach the past 11 seasons.
“He had good football knowledge and demonstrated he could build good relationships and was the kind kids responded to,” Hensley said. “Keith has been good for our kids and good for our program.”
As to whether he was surprised by the resignation announcement, Hensley said, “I can’t answer that.”
Those who have been involved with Bulldog football during the past decade have plenty to say.
Joe Kenney led the News-Gazette-Area in passing as a junior in 2013 after throwing for 2,292 yards. He is now a baseball player at the University of Indianapolis.
“(Pogue) gave me confidence when I was unsure of myself,” Kenney said. “He hired a great coaching staff to help build our team.
“He went out of his way to ensure my time at Mahomet-Seymour was as enjoyable as it could be.
“I learned a lot about how to lead while I was playing for him. He taught me when to be patient and when not to be patient. He is someone who I will look up to as a mentor for the rest of my life.”
M-S won 17 of 22 games in Kenney’s final two seasons and he passed for 4,622 yards during those two years.
“Coach Pogue believed in me from the first day he saw me play football until the last day I stepped on the field,” Kenney said. “That says almost everything about who he was as a coach and is as a person.
“He demonstrated patience as a coach and was someone that I could trust on the field.”
Gates said Pogue’s impact extended beyond the gridiron.
“Over my four years in the Mahomet football program, Coach Pogue has taught me many football skills,” Gates said, “but more importantly, he emphasized life skills that we can all carry through the rest of our lives.”
Pogue directed M-S into the playoffs nine times, second only to the 11 postseason appearances by the person he replaced, Tom Shallenberger.
Pogue’s final team finished with a 3-6 record.
“The outcome in wins and losses wasn’t what any of my fellow seniors hoped for, but we all grew as young men over the four years thanks to Coach Pogue,” Gates said, “which I personally feel is much more important than a number on the scoreboard.”
Gates said his coach emphasized camaraderie and team bonding.
“He wanted all of his players to become brothers on and off the field,” Gates said. “He wanted us to love each other and know that we could count on each and every one of our teammates when we were going through a hardship. He wasn’t only building a football team, but rather he was building great young men through the game of football.
“Before every game, he reminded us that no matter the outcome of win or loss that would come later that night, he would love us all the same. He wanted the best for everyone and made that clear from Day 1 my freshman year.
“The outcome from this has been a family atmosphere that I was lucky enough to be a part of for four years of my life. The brotherhood created under his lead is unparalleled by any other sport in Mahomet Seymour High School. I created so many new friendships and bonds thanks to his push to love every teammate wholeheartedly.”
Senior Connor Thomason, who led the Central Illinois area in interceptions as a senior this fall (eight), said Pogue was “a very smart man who had a lot of knowledge of the game.
“All in all, Coach Pogue always focused on the players loving each other, which was amazing. I learned to love my teammates like brothers and a lot of great things from Coach Pogue.”
Among M-S football head coaches with at least a decade on the job, Pogue has the No. 1 winning percentage (64.9), followed by Shallenberger (64.0) and Frank Dutton (62.7).
Those three, collectively, have coached the Bulldogs in football the past 48 seasons.
Junior lineman J.T. Murphy is pleased that he had the chance to play under Pogue’s tutelage.
“Playing for Coach Pogue for my first three years was a great experience,” Murphy said. “You could always count on him for a word of encouragement after a hard loss, or after a great win.
“What I learned from him is that life is much bigger than football, but football teaches you many valuable life lessons. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to get to play for him.”
Hensley said the search process for a replacement will start in a few weeks. The high school season officially concludes with the state championship games on Nov 23 and Nov. 24.
Thomason believes the district doesn’t need to go beyond the current staff for the next coach.
“Brett Roberts (this year’s defensive coordinator) is a perfect candidate and it wouldn’t be fair if he didn’t get a shot at the job,” Thomason said.
Roberts has head coaching experience at Champaign Central earlier this decade.
According to the press release, Pogue plans to remain on the M-S faculty in the social studies department.
It’s unclear if outside candidates for the football position would have a teaching position.
“We don’t know what our (open) positions will be for next year,” Hensley said. “Not having a set position right now is a challenge, but what it looks like in two months or six months, who knows?”
Hensley wouldn’t speculate about the likelihood of an assistant being promoted.
“We haven’t had conversations with any of those folks,” he said, “but if those levels of interest are out there, we’ll entertain talking to those people.”
Pogue’s 11-year record with the Bulldogs was 72-39, including wins in the final two games he coached.
His teams registered shutouts in each of his final three seasons and posted eight shutouts during his head coaching career.
On the IHSA web site, M-S enrollment is listed for this year at 919.
This season was the 64th full year for 11-man football in the Mahomet-Seymour district.
In that time, M-S has had eight different football head coaches. If the two 11-man games played to conclude the 1954 season are included, nine men have served as football head coaches at M-S during the 11-man era.