Monroe’s Jorris recalls his time under Kehres
When you’re a head coach for 27 years, you’ve certainly left a lasting imprint on a school, program and people.
Mt. Union’s Larry Kehres, who retired as the Purple Raiders’ head football coach on Wednesday, had as much success with the men he molded as he did on the field. That’s actually almost hard to believe since he retired with a eye-popping record of 332-24-3 and 11 NCAA Division III National Championships.
Several Ohio Valley natives and current coaches were molded by Kehres over the years.
The likes of St. Clairsville head coach Brett McLean, Monroe Central assistant coach Michael Jorris, Martins Ferry assistants Zac Bruney and Chas Yoder as well as Meadowbrook head coach Jesse Wells are just a few of the names that played for the Mount and have since entered the coaching profession.
Of those, Bruney and Wells also coached under Kehres at Mount Union before entering the prep ranks.
Jorris directed the Purple Raiders’ high-powered offense to two of those aforementioned national titles in 2005 and 2006 when he re-wrote several passing marks in the Mt. Union recordbook.
When Jorris originally visited the Alliance campus, he’d obviously heard of Kehres, but he didn’t realize what kind of ‘person’ he was. It didn’t take long to figure out once he got there.
“The serious, intense look on his face when I first met him was hard to forget,” Jorris said. “Coach Kehrest was very interested in my character. I could tell that he wanted a good person to come to Mt. Union and play football.”
Getting on the playing field at any college football program is difficult. Earning the respect and proving yourself to the coaches, especially at Mount Union, could have been an even bigger challenge.
“At Mount, you were always competing,” Jorris said. “Each player’s ultimate goal was to get on the field and start on gameday, but you knew you had to prove yourself to Coach Kehres every day, in every aspect, to show that you were ready.”
Once Jorris got on the field, he made the most of his opportunity and he now owns a pair of championship rings.
“Everyone thinks Mount has some kind of secret formula for their success,” Jorris said. “To me, it’s a mixture of good talent and good coaching. The coaches always had the willingness to adapt to what their players did best. Coach Kehres and the staff always put their players in the right situations to be successful.”
Jorris was actually at the helm of the Purple Raiders when their 110-game winning streak was snapped. Ironically, St. Clairsville graduate Adam Quirk was at the controls of the Ohio Northern offense that day.
However, the Purple Raiders rebounded and went on to win the championship that season.
The Monroe Central product threw for 3,736 and accounted for 3,853 of total offense, which ranks fifth all time in Purple Raiders’ history.
Jorris, who said he was “somewhat surprised” by Kehres’ decision, has taken many things he learned from his days with the Purple Raiders with him into the coaching world as he works under another legend, Jay Circosta.
“The intensity and desire for preparing and winning has always stuck with me,” Jorris said. “You are only as good as your preparation and from a coaching standpoint he always said, ‘players, formations, plays.'”
The one quality that Jorris believes separated Kehres from other coaches and made him so successful was his desire both to win and love of the place he worked.
“He was so intense and had a passion for Mount Union,” Jorris said. “His passion for the game of football and winning was incredible. He was very strategic and always thought things through. All of that rubbed off on us as players, and obviously, made for a lot of success.”
As Vince Kehres prepares to take over for his father, Jorris doesn’t expect any kind of letdown.
“The morals and goals of the program will not change,” Jorris said. “The only difference will be the first name of the head coach.”
- SPEAKING OF Zac Bruney, but he’s getting married today. We send congratulations to Zac and wish him and his bride, Amber Ifft, all the best.
- SECTIONAL BASEBALL and softball gets under way today. The times at Bridgeport have been adjusted. Action will begin with Barnesville and Frontier meeting at 1 p.m. The other games are 3:30 and 6 p.m. The entire schedule can be found on Page D6.
- IT’S CERTAINLY going to be interesting to follow what ramifications come for extra curricular activities, and more specifically sports, in the Switzerland of Ohio School District after voters shot down the levy on Tuesday. From talking to different people, it could be extremely tough for some of the programs at three schools. There’s a board meeting this coming Thursday, so we should all know more.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org