Remembering John Reed: Thousands expected to pay respects this weekend


Coldwater coaching legend John Reed led the Cavs to five state finals and two titles. (Photo by Nick Falzerano)

Thursday and
Friday in Coldwater – directly across the street from Chief’s Super Market, where John Reed
is honored in MVP Magazine as the 2009 High School Football Coach of the Year – thousands are expected to
gather to honor and remember Reed – at Hogenkamp’s Funeral Home.

The Miami Valley Sports Magazine (MVP) is a regional publication that
highlights high school sports in west central and southwest Ohio. The
latest issue showcases the region’s top high school football players
from last year and names the MVP Coach of the Year, which happens to be
Coldwater’s John Reed. MVP is sold at various outlets around Ohio, but
one place of note is Chief’s Super Market in Coldwater. Thursday and
Friday this week – directly across the street from Chief’s, where Reed
is honored in MVP with a write-up and picture (taken after the Cavs loss
in the Division V state final this season) – thousands are expected to
gather to honor and remember the coach – at Hogenkamp’s Funeral Home.

Reed, who led the Cavaliers to all five of the program’s state finals
and their two state championships, passed away at home last Friday at 3
a.m. after a six-month bout with esophageal cancer.

His passing – and the rapidness with which it happened – is shocking.
He was diagnosed with the disease in November.

“It is hard to believe the man was coaching in the state finals and
doesn’t last through the school year,” Marion Local head coach Tim
Goodwin said. “He was one of a kind.”

Goodwin – like many, many others – will attend Reed’s visitation. And
a scan of who else does may say more about Reed than his staggering
numbers. Expect a statewide collection of coaches, administrators,
football fans and former players to make the trek to Coldwater. Expect
the entire town to show up too.

In the Midwest Athletic Conference where football is king – and where
it is literally harder to win a conference title than a state
championship – Reed wore the largest crown and the most rings.

The state’s toughest small school conference, the MAC has seen its
share of great – yes, legendary – coaches, including Al Hetrick
(Versailles), Tim Boeckman (St. Henry), Goodwin (Marion Local), Todd
Shulte (Delphos St. John’s), Vic Whiting (DSJ), Ken Newland (Minster),
Jeff Starkey (St. Henry)…the list is steeped.

None, tough, have the resume of Reed.

With his stay at Coldwater – combined with his three years at Parkway
(where Reed led the Panthers to their only three MAC titles in history
from 1973-75) – Reed ranks No. 1 all-time in MAC wins with 197. He’s
also No. 1 in MAC titles with nine.

Overall, Reed went 102-14 in the MAC in his 15 years at Coldwater and
was 70-4 (.946 win percentage) alone the last nine seasons. Since 1995,
Coldwater has finished either first or second in the conference 14
times. Once it was third.

“The one thing that you always knew about Coldwater football teams under Coach Reed was that they were going to play really hard and were always going to be well prepared, which I believe is a direct result of how Coach Reed ran his program,” Schulte said. “Coldwater is a first class program, which again is because of the example that Coach Reed gave to them to follow. Coach Reed did it the right way.”

Said Starkey: “John’s teams were always well prepared. Our regional final game (this past season, which was won in four OTs by the Cavs) was truly epic. Both teams and staffs were utterly exhausted afterwards.  John and I spoke more after that game than all other times combined. We talked about how honored we were to witness the effort of these young men, and I wished him good health and good luck through the tournament.”

An Upper Sandusky native, Reed’s run also includes stints at Upper
Sandusky, Marion Harding and Lebanon. His overall record of 283-126-1
ranks 11th in state history for career wins and places him
ahead of contemporaries like Reno Saccoccia (Steubenville), J.D. Graham
(Newark Catholic) and Chuck Kyle (St. Ignatius).

Just how hard was it to beat Coldwater while Reed was in charge?

Of the 31 games Coldwater lost under Reed, 15 were to teams that won
state titles, five were to teams that finished state runner-up, six were
to teams that made the state semifinals and three were to teams that
made the playoffs. Only two of Reed’s losses at Coldwater came against
opponents who did not make the postseason (that means teams that beat
Coldwater during his stay had a 94-percent chance of making the
playoffs…65-percent had a chance of playing for a state title).

Coldwater’s own postseason success under Reed, whose playoff record
is 36-12, is impressive as well. In 15 years, he led Coldwater to 14
playoff berths, including 13 straight. Eight times the Cavs made the
state semifinals.

Over that same span, Reed made many impressions on me.

In this profession you talk to coaches daily and get to know them
pretty good. A few you think you might even like to have played for –
either out of fear or respect. Reed commanded attention due to both
qualities. And I mean that in a good way.

I’ve only met one other coach who was as stoic and sincere as Reed
and that’s a man who ranks ahead of him on the state’s all-time wins
list – Centerville’s Bob Gregg.

Gregg, who finished his career with 301 wins, was a dominant
personality that commanded respect and inspired it. Reed did the same.

I’ve seen several Coldwater football games, but the 2007 Division IV
state final
and the Cavaliers improbable fourth quarter rally to topple
nationally ranked, undefeated and heavily favored Youngstown Mooney
sticks out as the most memorable. It’s arguably the greatest upset in
state finals history.

At the post game press conference, Reed and his players were the only
ones not overwhelmed with shock at what they’d just witnessed.

“We came here to win,” Reed said in the Paul Brown Stadium press box.
“You can’t be influenced by what other people are going to think or
say. You have to believe in yourself. You know we live over on the other
side of Ohio and we really don’t know about the Mooney mystique and all
of that. We really don’t. We played them two years ago and we were able
to play them tough. We we’re confident we’d come here and play them
tough again. We didn’t say we were going to win, but we came here to

Everyone who met Reed will tell you they won too – just by knowing

A scan of his CaringBridge website (
reveals over 600 guestbook entries. Those from the last few days often
refer to the positive impact Reed had on them – whether they’d met him
or not.

“He was and will continue to be an inspiration to not only those that
knew him but those that didn’t,” one poster wrote.

Said another: “A person like Coach Reed never really leaves us.”

No they don’t.

Thursday and Friday, stories – along with tears and laughs – will
flow freely as the line lengthens outside Hogenkamp’s. Saturday the same
will happen when Reed’s laid to rest.

Sunday, though, and the days following, the tears will dry up. Reed’s
impact on Coldwater and Ohio High School Football never will.

My favorite Reed quote? It also followed the Cavs upset of Mooney and
will stick with me forever.

“We have the utmost respect for Cardinal Mooney, we really do,” Reed
said. “We respect everybody we play and we talk about that all the time.
We talk about respect everybody but fear nobody – and that’s sincere.”

That’s John Reed.


There are two ways to make contributions in honor of John Reed’s memory. They are:

#1 Scholarship Memorial Fund

The John Reed Memorial Fund Scholarship – supporting Christ Centered Academic and Athletic Excellence.  Anyone wishing to give towards this fund in lieu of flowers can sent it to: 
The John Reed Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 20
Coldwater, Ohio  45828.

#2 The Coach John Reed Fund for Cavalier Stadium Improvements

The Coach John Reed Fund for Stadium Improvements – supporting Cavalier Stadium Improvements and a Coach Reed Memorial at the Stadium. Anyone wishing to give towards this fund can send it to:
Mercer County Civic Foundation
c/o Coach John Reed for Cavalier Stadium Improvement Fund
P.O. Box 439
Celina, Ohio  45822

*Please note on the check for it to be directed to the John Reed Stadium Improvement Fund.  The funds sent to the Mercer County Civic Foundation are tax deductable.

For more information, you can contact Eric Goodwin, Athletic Director at 419-678-4822 or

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *