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Old fullbacks never tiptoe, never shy away from challenges. They attack them, whether they're blitzing linebackers, fourth-and-1 handoffs or proud programs suddenly spiraling downward.
So Dave Mohapp wasn't going to give up on his Warren football team two years ago after it went 3-6 for the first time since his first season as head coach.
"That really bothered me," Mohapp said. "I wanted to get our program back in good shape and in good standing."
As he did so many times as a player at Woodstock High and the University of Wisconsin, Mohapp moved the sticks. Well, he moved his program forward, anyway.
Now, it's time to move on.
Mohapp told his players Monday that he was stepping down. In his 17th season this year, the Blue Devils went 7-4, qualifying for the state playoffs for the second year in a row and 13th time overall. Warren's season included a playoff-opening victory over Glenbrook South. A 21-13 loss to Barrington denied the Blue Devils in berth in the Class 8A quarterfinals.
No Warren football coach has ever won more games than "Coach Mo," who went 109-66.
"I just felt it was time for a change for me and to take a little bit of a break," Mohapp said. "I get a chance to recharge my batteries a little bit. I was very fortunate to have the chance to be the head coach here for 17 years. I really enjoyed it, and now it's an opportunity for someone else to have that."
Toward the end of last week, after what he called some "soul-searching" immediately following the season, Mohapp knew what decision had to be made.
"I've sort of known over the last couple of years that I was getting to the point where I probably needed to hand this off to somebody," said Mohapp, who turns 54 next May. "My wife (Jane) and I talk every year when you get done with the season about how much longer you want to go and those types of things. I don't know that I was 100-percent sure I was going to get out, but I knew it was something I would have to address."
He'll miss the X's and O's and playing in a North Suburban Conference that's as competitive as any league in the state. Other things, he'll be fine without.
"Some of the administrative things that go with being a head coach, I don't mind taking a break from them," he said with a laugh.
Mohapp is too modest to take all the credit for his 109 victories. He points out that a lot goes into winning games. He's had good assistant coaches, good players.
"It's a good job," said Mohapp, who will continue teaching P.E. at Warren. "I'm very fortunate to work at Warren Township High School. We got a good school, so that's nice. You get some good football players. The temperament of the kids sort of fits my personality. I've never described myself as a flashy guy, but I like hard-nosed, tough, aggressive kids, and that fit the bill here. In that regard, it was a good match."
Warren, in short, got it right 17 years ago when it hired a coach who came from the college game. Mohapp coached running backs and defensive line at Illinois State for eight years, until one day the staff learned it was being dismissed. He finished up his masters and spent a season coaching at Illinois Wesleyan before Warren hired him as Reggie Hughes' replacement in 1997.
"His record speaks for itself," Warren athletic director Mark Pos said. "He's very conscientious. He cares about the program, he cares about the kids, and it showed."
On Monday, as he told Warren's players about his decision, for just the second time in the last 32 years, Mohapp found himself without a football team to coach. The other time was when the ISU staff was let go. He and Jane have two daughters, Warren graduates Jamie and Emily.
"I think a change is going to be good," Mohapp said. "When you think of a new coach coming in -- you see it all the time -- it brings a burst of energy and enthusiasm. That'll be good for Warren. Maybe that will help them take the next step or two in terms of being a state champion."
Warren doesn't hire head football coaches every year. In the last 40 years, the school has had three: Mike Kunkle, who went 107-33 in 15 seasons; Hughes, who was 43-34 in eight years; and Mohapp.
"All three were great," Pos said. "That will be the challenge for the new coach -- to keep the success going."
Dave Mohapp embraced that challenge. Warren needs to find a guy who will do the same.
•Follow Joe on Twitter: @JoeAguilar64