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Published: Wednesday, 3/3/2004

Waite hires Johnson, man of much experience


To replace retired football coach Charlie Delker, Waite High School s athletic committee has decided to go retro with the hiring of veteran John Johnson.

Johnson, 59, spent 15 seasons (1984-1998) as head coach at Clay High School, after serving seven seasons (1977-83) in the same capacity at the former Macomber High School in the City League.

“I m a young guy trapped in an old guy s body,” Johnson said. “But I love the game and still get excited about coaching.”

“We liked his experience level, his availability to be in the building and his enthusiasm to coach and to be at Waite High School,” Waite athletic direcor Bob Utter said.

After his contract was not renewed by Clay following the 98 season, Johnson worked as a volunteer assistant under Delker at Waite in 2000,then joined the staff of St. Francis de Sales head coach Dick Cromwell for the 2001-03 seasons as offensive and defensive tackles coach. While with St. Francis in 01, Johnson was part of the Knights Division II state championship season.

Johnson is a 1963 graduate of the CL s former DeVilbiss High School, where he earned All-City honors on defense. He played under Frank Lauterbur at the University of Toledo from 1963-66.

He began his coaching career as an assistant at Bowsher (1969-70 and 1972-74) before becoming a Macomber assistant for two seasons (1975-76). While head coach at Macomber, Johnson posted a 31-20-2 record, including 19-6 in CL play. He was named City League coach of the year in 1979 and 1983, and his teams played in three Shoe Bowl title games.

Utter said that Johnson, who has indicated plans to retire from full-time teaching in the Oregon school system, will likely become a substitute teacher at Waite, allowing him to be in the building during the school day to monitor the academic progress of his players.

Waite has perhaps the deepest feeder system for football of the CL s nine public schools, with the seven-school East Toledo Junior Football League in addition to a team at East Toledo Junior High School. The ETJFL has operated for more than 50 years.

Utter cited Johnson s enthusiasm for the prospect of developing football talent out of these lower ranks as one of the factors in his hiring.

“Waite is a quality program and there s great kids there,” Johnson said. “I ve always thought it was a diamond in the rough. Hopefully, we can polish it up.”

Delker stepped down from his coaching post after 16 years following the 2003 season.

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