It was with great sadness that I was told last week of the passing of Hobert “Hobie” Krouse, who was my football coach at Montpelier High School.
He was a special man in my life, and I’ll always cherish everything he taught me.
The late summer of 1964 was a golden innocent time. Skinny ties, white socks and red penny loafers were all you needed to be considered dressed up for Sunday School. In the best sense: “It was a Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver world.”
My first meeting with Couch Krouse was in the gym at the old school. We were sitting at the north end and in he came to take charge of the football team. This was his very first varsity assignment. Coach did not come alone that day. With him was the most rambunctious young boy. We were told his name was Kenny Krouse. I guess Coach couldn’t get a babysitter?
He wasn’t a large man, but solidly built, wearing a polo shirt and athletic shorts. There was not much of a winning tradition at MHS. For three years, I had played on teams with a .500 or below win rate.
He told us that very first day that this was going to change! If you were not dedicated to winning through hard work, now was the time to leave the gym.
I am here to tell you, two-a-day football practice was not pleasant with our new head coach. The 19 seniors had never been pushed this hard before — never ending hitting, non-stop work on a new offense, and let’s not forget the bear crawl – seven man sled – and “God give us strength” wind sprints.
Our team wasn’t blessed with a lot of size, but Coach offset it with trap plays, misdirection, and power sweeps. We had speed to burn on this team: Bob Gambler, Todd Dreher and the 215-pound speedster Dan Bohner. If you survived after trying to tackle Dan Bohner, you were indeed fortunate. Our quarterback was Larry Pressler, and he received all-state recognition. Our other state player was John Teats, honorable mention all-state defensive back.
With training camp done, we were more than ready for a very tough Northwest Ohio Athletic League schedule. We finished 5-3-1, a winning record and second place in the NWOAL. We posted wins over Edon, Liberty Center, Swanton, Delta, lost a close game to Bryan, tied Napoleon and finished with a victory over Archbold.
Coach taught us teamwork, responsibility, show up early and do the best job you can. No matter how tough it gets, pick yourself up, try again and never ever quit. These things have stayed with me all my adult life. I will always be grateful to Coach for being the first to think we could be winners.
Fast forward to 2010, I am taking pictures on the night the Montpelier football field was named in his honor. Coach Krouse and his family were the honored guests. I stood with a lot of great Montpelier Locomotive athletes. I was honored and humbled to take those pictures.
Our coach won more football games (85-73-6) than any coach in Montpelier Locomotive school history. His team was state runner-up in 1973. He took a lot of young men by the hand, and he convinced them they could be winners in football, and more to the point in life. He was a man for all seasons.
On Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at the high school auditoria in Montpelier, we will celebrate his life. I am going to try to put on my No. 65 high school jersey and do my best to honor Coach Krouse’s memory.
Rest in peace, Coach. Many of us will never forget you.