By KEVIN HARRIS
After helping bring the Silver Creek High School football program back to the varsity level, Mike Donahue has stepped down as the Dragons’ coach.
Donahue has been a part of the revitalization of Silver Creek football since 2007 when he was a volunteer assistant coach for the Dragons’ middle school program.
Donahue then became an assistant coach during the first two seasons of Silver Creek’s junior varsity program in 2008 and 2009. Toward the end of the 2009 season, Donahue was named interim coach for the JV program.
He was in charge of the JV program in 2010 before earning the varsity coaching job later that year. In 2010, Donahue coached the Silver Creek JV team against its first varsity opponent since the 1940s as the Dragons lost to Springs Valley, 55-20.
Donahue coached the Silver Creek varsity the last three seasons, compiling a 7-24 record during that time.
The Dragons increased their win total in each season under Donahue’s guidance. After Silver Creek went 0-10 in 2011 in its first varsity season since the 40s, it posted a 3-7 record in 2012. The Dragons’ first victory since restarting their varsity team happened in 2012 in a 44-18 win at Eastern.
This past season, the Dragons recorded a 4-7 mark and collected their first-ever sectional victory. On Oct. 25 at home, Silver Creek defeated Boonville in the opening round of Class 4A Sectional 24, 49-41.
Donahue told his players he was resigning after last Friday’s 49-15 sectional semifinal loss to Evansville Reitz at the Reitz Bowl.
“I told them it was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. We shedded some tears and moved on,” Donahue said.
Donahue said health concerns and added responsibilities as the minister at Speed Memorial Church were the main reasons he decided to leave the Dragons. Donahue, 61, was recently selected to the board of trustees of the International Council of Community Churches.
“My intention at first was to continue to coach, but my health issues had a big effect,” Donahue said. “I’m leaving because of the amount of time it involves. For my health issues, I need to have less stress right now. I hope they can find a head coach as well as a teacher to fill the job.”
Donahue says the Silver Creek football program is in much better shape than it was when he took over the Dragons’ helm.
“I’m comfortable about leaving because I think the program will continue on and do well,” Donahue said. “The numbers are high and the community is behind it.”
Donahue’s resignation ends a coaching career that spanned 21 years. Prior to coaching at Silver Creek, Donahue was an offensive line coach and offensive coordinator at St. Joseph High School in Westchester, Ill., near Chicago. He also helped coach a semi-professional team in northern Indiana along with coaching football at the youth and junior high levels.
Silver Creek athletic director Larry Richmer lauded Donahue’s work with Silver Creek football. Richmer said Donahue and the Dragons made more progress in their first three seasons than two Southern Indiana programs — Crawford County and Eastern — did in their first three years of existence from 2007-09.
“Coach Donahue was willing to take on the challenge of a new program,” Richmer said. “Crawford County and Eastern each won a total of four games in their first three years. Coach Donahue knew that going into it. We had seven wins during our first three years, including a sectional win, and I am sure Coach Donahue would tell you about a few games that got away. He and his assistant coaches have brought the program along to the point where we have become more competitive each year.”
Richmer says the West Clark Community Schools system has started accepting resumes for the vacant coaching job. But he states there is no timetable of when a new coach will be hired because the coaching vacancy does not have a teaching job to go along with it at this time.