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LEWIS: Montgomery County Remembers — Schavietello’s Retirement

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Legendary Coach Retired 22 Years Ago This Week

While searching for some info I needed for this week’s column, I came across the front page of the Oct. 31, 1997 sports section of the Journal Review.

So you may be asking, “So what?” and “What does that have to do with this column?”

It has everything to do with this column, because that front page brought back a lot of memories and it made me adjust the content for this week’s column (plus the fact I still can’t find what I am looking for to do the other column).

So what was so special that made me want to change topics? How about if you give you the headline — Finally Hanging It Up.

Does that ring a bell to you? It should to anyone who is a Crawfordsville football fan. That was the day I ran the story about Crawfordsville’s legendary football coach Rick Schavietello stepping down as the head coach after 21 years of being the head coach at Crawfordsville.

Yes after 21 years “The Coach” was done coaching. Yes, after 214 games of patrolling the sidelines of Hoover Field and the new field at the current high school he was done. Yes, after a remarkable record of 70-34 against the teams of the Sagamore Athletic Conference he was done.

I remember the call a few days earlier when he said “I have something I need to talk to you about.”  The call came just prior to his team’s loss to Frankfort in the first round of the sectional the week before. I’ll be the first to admit that coach and I didn’t always see eye-to-eye on things so his request had me a bit at a loss.

When we met and he explained what the news was I was stunned – much like everyone associated with the Crawfordsville football program. Sure the Athenians had fallen into some hard times. His final team went 1-8 and the record of the last three teams he coached was just 3-25. However, he was Coach and he was part Crawfordsville football. Afterall, 15 of his 21 seasons his teams had winning records and that included a run of 14 of his first 16 teams.

When he retired his 214 games was the most ever coached by any football coach in Montgomery County. He 124 career wins was the all-time leader (North Montgomery coach Charley German would later pass that mark). His 21 years of coaching were four more than Glenn Knecht’s 17 years (and his 100 wins).

Recently in a poll in this column as to what was the best high school football team ever a number of his teams popped up. His 1989 team went 12-1. His 1978 team went 9-2 in just his second year and was ranked No. 1 in the state — the only Crawfordsville football team to ever be ranked No. 1.

Coach loved challenges. He was much more than a coach. He always said he was a teacher — both on and off the field. Teaching his players about football, school work and life in general was what he was all about.

His teams always seemed to rise to the occasions in big game as well. Here is a list of some of the “big games” his team won:

• In 1977 (his first year after the team went 4-6 the year before) his team beat Lafayette Jeff in the season opener 29-7 and then later beat No. 1 ranked Noblesville 23-8

• In 1979 his team beat No. 7 Lafayette Jeff 21-7

• In 1980, his team beat No. 8 Lafayette Jeff 18-14

• In 1983, his team beat No. 9 Lafayette Jeff 12-10; No. 5 Edgewood 21-14 and No. 2 Oak Hill 16-14

• In 1985, his team beat No. 2 Zionsville 16-14

• In 1989, his team beat No. 1 Western Boone 42-12, No. 2 Tipton 16-9, No. 4 Fort Wayne Dwenger 41-17, No. 6 New Palestine 27-6 and No. 9 Western 42-0

• In 1992, his team beat No. 5 Speedway 28-13

• in 1995, his team beat No. 1 North Montgomery 22-8

That’s 14 wins vs. Top 10 teams (before there were six classes) and three wins against No. 1-ranked teams.

Yep. Coach coached his final game 22 years ago this week as his final game took place on Oct. 24, 1997.

I’m not sure about you but it seems like only yesterday he was patrolling the sidelines. It’s hard to believe it’s really been 22 years.

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