Returning home was easy for Mark Lane. It’s all the West Milton native wanted to do.
That’s what Lane, a Bulldogs football and wrestling standout, indicated on a questionnaire prior to graduating from Milton-Union High School. Whenever Milton head football coach Bret Pearce was moving on, Lane wanted to move in.
M-U recently made that happen by luring Lane from Wilmington College, where he was an assistant.
“It’s hard to believe that it’s come true,” said Lane.
That is just part of a recent whirlwind of area head football coaching changes. On Monday, it was announced that Geron Stokes was leaving Urbana to accept the head coach position at Minster. That job opened when Mason native Nate Moore resigned to accept the head coach position at Cincinnati La Salle.
Previously, Toby Smith went from from West Liberty-Salem to Bellefontaine.
Veteran Ben Hubbard is the senior of the bunch, bringing more than 50 years of experience to reboot Little Miami. He also has been head coach at Lakota West, Talawanda and New Miami and guided Fairfield to the 1986 D-I state title.
Finally, Bill Leach left Princeton for Monroe and Steve Nolan resurfaced at Troy Christian after resigning at Troy following the 2011 season.
Still to be filled are the Hamilton and Fenwick head coach positions. Bob Jacoby recently left the Big Blue after three seasons. He guided Columbus DeSales into a perennial postseason power before landing at Hamilton.
Fred Cranford announced last week he was leaving Fenwick after 14 seasons to be Loveland’s head coach.
Lane, 31, was an assistant at Wilmington College since 2007. He said he knows many of the Southwestern Buckeye League coaches through recruiting circles. “I’m going to enjoy competing against them now,” he said.
Like Pearce, he’ll also be an intervention specialist at the high school. Lane worked with former Valley View head coach Jay Niswonger with the Quakers last season. He gave a big shout-out to Niswonger.
“What this whole profession’s about is learning from others, understanding what they’ve given you and giving back to the youngsters,” Lane said. “It’s not hard to be fired up to go to work every day at a place like this.”
Stokes was Urbana’s head coach the last four seasons. The Hillclimbers have won three straight Central Buckeye Conference Mad River titles. Stokes was the Southwest District D-III coach of the year last fall.
Champs welcomed: Can’t beat Thurgood Marshall’s football schedule upgrade. The Cougars will host defending D-III state champ Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12. That’s a Week 7 non-league game. Last season Thurgood drilled playoff-regular Jonathan Alder 52-14.
The Irish defeated Bellevue 42-21 to complete a 12-2 season and win their fifth state title. Bellevue edged Thurgood 34-33 in a state semifinal shootout at Ohio Wesleyan at Delaware.