Longtime coach Bill Bohren hits 300-win milestone
VIENNA — When Bill Bohren won his 300th football game as a head coach, he was relieved it was over.
“Now I can concentrate on the next game, not the number,” the Mathews Mustangs coach said Saturday. “I was pretty confident we would win.”
Bohren, 87, began his coaching career in the late 1960s and has coached all over the Valley — and now leads the Mustangs team that he only began coaching this fall.
The team earned No. 300 in a one-sided victory over Ashtabula St. John at the SPIRE Institute in Harpersfield, 36-0.
“When I was invited to coach here I knew this district had a chance to be good,” he said. “It had a good basketball team and an excellent baseball team. They had a culture of winning here.”
But the Mathews football team in the last four years had a record of 6-24.
During some games the team did not have enough players to field a team.
“The key was to talk to students in the school,” Bohren said. “Sit down with them and try to coax interest in playing on the football team.”
The team now has 30 players. In other districts where he’s coached, he’s had teams with 38 seniors on them.
“We will be better next year,” he said. “We already have ninth-graders committed to play. We will be better the following year.”
Athletic director Mike Palumbo said the moment Bohren was hired, he began talking to students.
“He has rejuvenated the program,” Palumbo said. “As soon as you meet the guy you want to work with him. He is an unbelievable guy.”
Although his Mathews team only represents five of Bohren’s 300 wins, Palumbo said the team feels a part of his story and it wanted to honor him.
“There was great turnout for the game,” Palumbo said. “We had some of his past players and some past coaches here to recognize this win.”
The team was given a police escort back into Vienna on Saturday.
Bohren said he loves being out on the field on Friday nights with his teams — saying it gives him a sense of purpose. As much as he loves teaching them, he receives their youthful energy.
“What would I be doing if I wasn’t here?” he asked. “This is a job that I love. We have some good kids here. They work hard, and they are aggressive.”
“I’ve worked in steel mills and did not want to go to work,” he said.
Over the years, Bohren described playing teams that had players such as Heisman Trophy-winner Desmond Howard and the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger.
“When you have all-stars, you don’t have to convince them to do what is necessary to prepare for the next games,” he said.
Bohren began his coaching career at Ohio High School in Ohio, Illinois.
He led Ohio High to an 8-2 finish. He made several other stops in Illinois, then made his way to Ottawa-Glandorf. He then had a three-year stint at Steubenville before making himself a fixture in the Mahoning Valley.
Bohren coached for a short time in Butler, Pa., before making rounds throughout northeast Ohio, including Lakeview, Boardman, Salem, Niles, LaBrae and Chalker, he said.
He has coached for 50 years. He said he probably has coached more than 500 games during his career.
In Ohio, 16 coaches have at least 300 wins. Bohren’s record is 300-173-3.