Dave Dlugosz built football powerhouse at Avon Lake

MORNING JOURNAL/JIM BOBEL Avon Lake head coach Dave Dlugosz is shown after winning his 200th game last season. There will be a party for the coach on Saturday, June 22.

Former Avon Lake coach Dave Dlugosz has been one of the constants in Northeast Ohio high school football for the past 21 years, with an impressive 18 Southwestern Conference championships, 15 playoff appearances and a state championships in his coaching career.

Dlugosz retired at the end of the 2012 season with a career record of 200-44, but will stick around on the Avon Lake coaching staff as an offensive line coach under Larry Laird. After 21 seasons of success, Dlugosz said that there was no magic secret to the Shoremen’s winning ways.

“I do realize that the reason Avon Lake has had a good record and has had success is the combination of three things,” Dlugosz said. “One is we’ve had kids that bought in to what we did as far as the program goes ... Once everything was established, all we had to do was maintain that consistency and they all learned from each other and worked together.

“The second element of course is I had a tremendous set of assistant coaches that were very good friends and also experienced and knowledgeable, and also very motivated to succeed and to give our kids the best opportunity to succeed ... We’ve also always had very supportive parents and that the community of Avon Lake really loves their football.”

The game may have changed throughout Dlugosz’s tenure, especially with the expansion of spread offenses. But Dlugosz kept his tried-and-true formula of power-running and his teams just continued to win, and win frequently.

“We stayed with what we knew, with what we understood, with what we believed in, and with what we knew how to adjust with,” he said. “That was real important to maintain our consistency. It wasn’t like we were going to change defenses every 3-4 years and go with the flavor of the month thing.

“Right now, we’re kind of the oddball of the planet because we run an I-formation, power-running game where we’re not into that spread every time. Now instead of everybody worrying about, ‘How are we going to defend the spread?’ spread teams are coming back to saying, ‘How are we going to defend the I-formation?’”

Avon Lake athletic director Tom Barone said that Dlugosz’s attitude and success have been the staple of the football program.

“I’ve been fortunate that for 17 years here as AD that Dave Dlugosz was our head football coach,” he added. “Dave’s the true definition of what Shoremen football is all about being a graduate of Avon Lake High School himself.”

Dlugosz said retirement has been a bit of a difficult transition from being the full-time head coach for 21 years, but that he’s pleased to still be a part of the program in a lesser role. He has great confidence in Laird, who was a head coach for a season at Medina High School in 2010 and led the Bees to a 9-3 record and their first playoff win in school history. Laird stepped down after that season and returned to Avon Lake as the offensive coordinator.

“Larry’s one of my closest friends and been one of my biggest supporters when I was the head coach,” Dlugosz said. “Now it’s my turn to return the favor. One of the issues when I stepped down is I did not step down and say, ‘There’s nothing left. Now, work on your own.’ We should have a very competitive football team this year. I know Coach Laird feels that way as well.”

Barone is helping to plan a celebration of Dlugosz’s coaching career as well as a football reunion party set for Saturday, June 22 at Ahern’s Banquet Center, 726 Avon Belden Rd., Avon Lake. Barone knows Dlugosz doesn’t like being the center of attention, but hopes he appreciates so many of his former player who have grown up since they graduated.

“Dave isn’t the kind of guy that likes to have the spotlight on himself,” Barone said. “I’m sure he’s going to probably be a little uncomfortable with what’s planned.

“Dave, in his 21-plus years of being head coach, has probably impacted many, many young men who are probably fathers at this point in their lives as well, too. So it’s somewhat of a football reunion as well, too.”

Tickets for the event are $50. To purchase, call Beth Laraway at (440) 933-7448, Deb Oxley at (440) 227-4216 or visit ShoremenFootball.net.


Last Updated: 5/11/2013 11:37:49 PM EST

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