COLUMN: Five former area football coaches we would love to see return to the sideline

Former New Haven football coach Jim Rowland, middle, talks with his players during the 2017 season.

With the recent news that Tim Mannigel is set to return as head coach of Concordia Lutheran football, we at Outside the Huddle began thinking about other former coaches we would like to see back on the sideline on Friday nights in the area.

Below are our top five picks on which familiar faces we would like to see leading area programs again.

NOTE: This isn’t calling for these coaches to return to their old stomping grounds, but merely us being selfish wanting them back in the area somewhere.


Selfishly, we just want Gilg back on the sidelines mostly because of his name, which just flows off the tongue. But also because Gilg was a darn good football coach in his day.

From 2004-11, Gilg led the Huntington North program, which went 51-32 during his tenure without a single losing season. In a locale that hangs on every success and failure of its athletic teams, Gilg delivered with consistent competitive squads that battled Homestead tough in yearly Week 1 games and was a solid contender in the North Central Conference.

In the 10 seasons since Gilg departed the sidelines at Huntington North, the Vikings have not been able to produce a single winning campaign.

Gilg has gone on to bigger things, most recently as principal at Huntington North. So the ship has likely sailed on Gilg taking over a high school program again.

But Gilg is still remembered as one of the more personable and respected coaches in this area, attributes that have carried him into administration.


We tend to take for granted the efforts done by coaches when they don’t necessarily result in a lot of hardware or state titles.

Coach Hall is a prime example.

In six seasons at North Side from 2010-15, Hall led the program to a 35-30 record, including a nine-win campaign in 2013 that saw the then-Redskins capture the Victory Bell as SAC regular-season champions.

The grind that is being a teacher/coach in Fort Wayne Community Schools eventually saw Hall step down from his position as head coach, but he picked it back up in 2018 as he headed to Fountain Central where he led that team for four seasons.

Hall ran a respected program at one of the toughest places to consistently win in the area. North Side beat the likes of Carroll, Snider, Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger during his tenure and was known as a tough-minded coach who held his players accountable. North Side has not had a winning season since Hall stepped down.

Presently, Hall is enjoying his family and being able to watch his kids grow up and participate in their own extracurricular activities. Could he look back towards the sideline when his kids get older?


Do people miss the handlebar mustache and scowl as much as we do?

For close to two decades, Isaacs prowled the sidelines as head coach of the Snider Panthers, amassing a 194-32 career record, winning 17 sectionals, nine regionals, a trio of semistates and the state championship in 1992. He also served as wrestling coach at Snider when it jumpstarted its program in the mid 1970’s, leading the Panthers to a record of 84-6-1.

Isaacs continues to be a presence on the sideline at Snider as an assistant coach, and he still exudes the aura that is “Ike,” who is regarded as one of the best leaders on the gridiron this area has ever known.

Does the 69-year-old Isaacs crave a return as a head coach? Probably not. Can we dream? Absolutely.


When Coach Jim Rowland stepped down as coach of the New Haven Bulldogs in 2017, northeast Indiana lost one of its most proven leaders in the midst of an exceptional run.

The Bulldogs had won at least seven games in each of the previous eight seasons, twice reaching 11 victories. Under Rowland’s tutelage, the Bulldogs had captured four sectional titles an a regional championship over his 17 years at the helm of his alma mater.

For his career, Rowland compiled a 114-80 record. He is still active in assisting the New Haven football program, but referenced time away from his family as the reason for stepping down.

“There’s a five- or six-year window where our kids are at the age where they are participating in stuff,” Rowland told The News-Sentinel in 2017. “I wanted to help coach them and there was a constant feeling of conflict, having to miss an offseason workout with our players to go to one of my kids’ things or having to missing my kids’ stuff because of football.

“I don’t think it’s permanent. I don’t think I’m done coaching. But your kids grow up so fast.”

As Rowland’s kids grow up, is a return at a local program possible? Let’s hope so.


It is somewhat jokingly referred to as the “Stinson Curse,” but Northrop’s struggles over the past 19 years since Coach Matt Stinson departed is real.

Since Stinson stepped down from leading the Bruins program in 2003, it has not a single winning season. In Stinson’s final year at the helm, Northrop went 8-3 – the losses coming to Snider (twice) and Harding (by one point).

Overall, Stinson went 44-23 in six years leading Northrop. He is just the third coach with a winning overall record with the Bruins, joining brothers Buzz and Dean Doerffler.

Stinson is a long time removed from the SAC sidelines. He currently serves as the special education director, teacher and safety director for East Noble School Corporation. Who knows if the fire still burns inside of him to be a head football coach again, but any area program would be lucky to have him.


  1. Funny that you mentioned the first two together. One of those played a part on why the other one is not coaching any more.

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