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West Lafayette football coach Overley announces retirement

November 23, 2012
West Lafayette Jr.-Sr. High School

Marshall Overley typed his letter of resignation, signed it and offered it to then-West LafayettePrincipal Anne Koivo and athletic director Brock Touloukian.

At that point in 2005, the Red Devils had not experienced a winning season in Overley’s five years as head football coach. He wondered if he was the man for the job.

Overley’s superiors knew the answer.

“They wouldn’t accept it,” Overley said. “Brock said, ‘I want to put a state championship ring on your finger. I said, ‘Brock, I’m happy with a winning season, let alone a state championship.’ ”

The winning season came two years later, and the state championship followed two years after that. When Overley announced his retirement as a biology teacher and coach on Thursday, he did so having restored the reputation of West Lafayette football.

Overley compiled an 81-55 record over 12 seasons. The Red Devils went 62-12 over the past six seasons, winning two Hoosier Conference titles, three sectional championships, two regionals and the 2009 Class 3A state title.

“Marshall was the right guy for that job, because of who he was and what he stood for,” Touloukian said. “The best part of Marshall Overley was he was a teacher first and a coach second. He was someone we were very proud to have in that spot, and we had confidence that the way he carried himself as a person was going to help turn this program around, and it did.”

Overley, who turns 62 later this month, decided to retire months ago but did not tell his players until Thursday.

“There were rumors going around that he might retire, but all the players are pretty sad to see him go,” junior defensive end Jade Doty said. “He left a great legacy with West Side football.

“He was a great person and probably one of the best moral people I know — a great role model. He had great virtues that he taught the team of hard work and winning every day.”

Junior running back Maurice Woodard learned to prioritize homework over football from Overley as a freshman.

“He cares about you as a person and how you’re going to develop after high school and after high school football,” Woodard said. “He cares about each and every one of his players.”

Overley was a wrestler, not a football player, as a Twin Lakes student. When he agreed to be an assistant junior high football coach at Frontier he did not realize he’d started a 34-year coaching career.

He arrived at West Lafayette in 1986 and served as Ernie Beck’s defensive coordinator on the 1993 Class 2A state championship team. In 2001, he became the 13th Red Devils head coach since 1923.

Overley’s tenure included highs and lows. The 2007 team was 8-0 when quarterback Matt Lancaster was diagnosed with a season-ending blood clot, and the Red Devils lost their final two games. In 2008, West Lafayette was 11-0 and ranked No. 1 but lost to Yorktown in the sectional final at Straley Field.

Led by Mr. Football Daniel Wodicka, the 2009 Red Devils won their first sectional in 16 years en route to a 15-0 record and the Class 3A state title.

“Marshall will be the first to tell you he had some good talent come up through the program,” said Josh Strasser, a former West Lafayette assistant and now head coach at Delphi. “But he was also able to retain consistency between his coaches and have strong development in the program.

“... He’s not just a great coach with Xs and Os, but off the field he’s a great teacher and a great Christian and father and role model. The kids really appreciate and respect what he means to them.”

Overley hasn’t ruled out a return to coaching, partially because he’s not sure he can sit still in the stands. He expects to look back with pride on the human successes more than the athletic ones.

“You don’t wear the rings very much, and after a while you don’t look at the pictures very much,” Overley said. “The legacy you leave is going to be the people that come through my program and the people they affect in their lives.”

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