Legendary Mount Union coach Kehres steps down

ALLIANCE – University of Mount Union’s Larry Kehres has decided to step down as head football coach but remain the director of athletics, effective immediately.

In his 39th year working at his alma mater, Kehres started out as an assistant football coach and professor in 1974. He was Mount Union’s first head swimming coach, was named athletic director in 1985 and assumed the head coaching job for football in 1986.

“The best part of the job was developing relationships with players and continuing those relationships following their graduations,” Kehres said. “Coaching the Purple Raiders has been a tremendous experience for my family. We have shared many great experiences with our players, fellow coaches, trainers and their families. We plan to continue to enjoy working with Mount Union coaches and athletes.”

In 27 seasons, his teams won 23 Ohio Athletic Conference Championships (1986, 1990, 1992-2012) while posting 21 undefeated regular seasons (1986, 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995-2004, 2006-2012) and claiming 11 NCAA Division III National Championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012).

A 1971 Mount Union graduate, Kehres has a career coaching record of 332-24-3 (.924), making him one of the winningest coaches in the history of college football.

Lakeview defensive cooridnator and Hubbard Class of 2001 graduate Ron DeJulio played under Kehres for fours years and spent a year as a graduate assistant in 2005. He said that winning never got old for his college coach.

“He made sure that we didn’t expect that we were going to be back there every single year,” De Julio said. “It never got old for him, and he started right when we got back. He was gung-ho all the way as soon as we got back from the Stagg Bowl.”

According to DeJulio, Kehres’ greatest assests as a coach were his ability to recruit and get the most out of the players who went to Mount Union to play for him.

“He got kids to go to Mount Union who could have gone to play in higher-level football,” DeJulio said. “He had that nack of talking to kids, and he would build some guys who you wouldn’t think see the field by their senior years were big contributors. He did that year in, year out.”

DeJulio’s favorite moments of his coach came before each game, when the now 63 year old tried to energize his players – no matter the opponent.

“He was as excited as each one of us was to go out there and play,” DeJulio said. “It didn’t matter who we were playing, if it was the first game or we were in the Stagg Bowl, he was just as excited every single time at trying to get us pumped up, ready for the game.”

Larry’s son, Vince, will take over the program as the head football coach effective immediately. Vince spent the last 13 years on the Mount Union football coaching staff and the last eight of those years as defensive coordinator.

As defensive coordinator, his unit ranked statistically among the top in NCAA Division III, and in 2012 it was No. 1 in total defense, No. 1 in scoring defense and No. 1 in rushing defense while posting six consecutive shutouts.

The 1998 Mount Union graduate and Alliance native has been part of 10 of the Purple Raiders national championships as either a player (2) or a coach (8).

During his playing career at Mount Union, Kehres totaled 62 hits and 12 tackles for loss, and he was a key member of the special teams unit. He was part of a 1997 defense that led all of Division III in fewest points allowed (5.6 ppg) and rushing defense (48.6 ypg) while posting five shutouts and setting a Raider single-season mark for sacks in a season (53 in 10 regular season games).

DeJulio worked with Vince during his one-year stint as a graduate assistant and said he believes the program is in good hands.

“You just look at his defenses and the way he runs that defensive program, and he’s done a fantastic job,” DeJulio said of Vince. “From going when Don Montgomrey was defensive coordinator there and left for another head coaching job, Vince took over and we didn’t lose a step. He constantly has No. 1 defenses, and he’s also a great coach. He has a lot of similarities to his father, and the program is definitely going to be in good hands.”

While no longer being the coach, DeJulio doesn’t expect Larry to be completely away from the program, using Larry’s predessor as an example.

“I think he’s always going to be around because the guy who proceeded him, coach (Ken) Wable, he was still a guy who was always around,” DeJulio said. “He lived right down the road, and coach Kehres lives right down the road from the practice facility. I’m not saying that he won’t be missed – he will be missed, but I think that with the coaching staff that they have and the recruiting that they do, they’re going to be just fine.