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The Prep Report

Flying Under the Radar
by: Jamie DeMoney
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With a record like Chuck Lenahan’s, it’s almost impossible to fly “under the radar.” But national prep football rankings and other similar recognition happens in New Hampshire about as often awards for maple syrup making go out to folks in Florida. So, it’s safe to say that Lenahan and his Plymouth Regional program is very much soaring under the radar. Even with a 2004-05 NFHS Coach of the Year award in his pocket, Lenahan and his old-school brand of hard-nosed “keep it on the ground and play tough defense” football probably doesn’t get as much respect for his accomplishments as he deserves.

In November, Plymouth defeated Souhegan (Amherst), 20-14, for the Division III state title. It was the Bobcats’ 14th crown in an amazing 24 state finals appearances in 35 years under Lenahan, who also serves as his school’s athletics director. Lenahan has compiled a 276-63-1 record at the school. According to the Manchester Union Leader, Plymouth is now 92-5 with seven state championships since 1997 and has allowed just five opponents during the 97-game span to score more than 20 points.

Where are they Now?
This month’s list feature was inspired by a reader email (thank you Joe C. in South Jersey) asking for an update on our inaugural “Hot List” of high school coaches that appeared in our August 2003 issue. We profiled 10 prep coaches in that issue, and here’s an update on each of them.

1. Rick Darlington, Valdosta (Ga.): Darlington won 77 percent of his games and a 6A state title at Apopka before becoming the 13th head coach of the nation’s winningest prep program. But his three-year record at Valdosta of 26-14 (.650 – lowest at Valdosta since the 1940s) with one Class 5A state runner-up finish wasn’t enough to please many program boosters, so Darlington resigned two days after the Wildcats were eliminated from the ’05 playoffs.

2. Bill Blankenship, Tulsa Union (Okla.): Blankenship had his Redskins in position to win their third 6A state title in four seasons at press time.

3. Rob Melosky, Parkland (Allentown, Pa.): Melosky led Parkland to the 4A state title in 2002 and a combined 12-10 record the next two seasons but was not re-hired at Parkland following the ’04 season. He is now an assistant coach (linebackers) at Lehigh University.

4. Tommy Knotts, Independence (Charlotte, N.C.): Knotts made a well publicized jump to coach quarterbacks for one year at his alma mater, Duke University, in ’04. He returned as Independence’s head coach this season, and the Patriots’ winning streak had reached 89 straight games before Thanksgiving.

5. Raul Lara, Long Beach Poly (Calif.): Lara led the Jackrabbits to their 17th CIF title in ’04 and continues to produce nearly double-digit Division I recruits each season.

6. Gordon Wood, Helix (La Mesa, Calif.): After coaching Heisman Trophy contenders Alex Smith and Reggie Bush while going 46-6 with two CIF titles in four seasons, Wood unexpectedly resigned from Helix following the ’03 season. He is now reportedly out of coaching and is an assistant principal at a junior high school.

7. Todd Dodge, Southlake (Texas) Carroll: At press time Dodge’s Dragons had won 59 of 60 games with their third 5A/II state title in four years and second consecutive National Prep Poll title clearly in sight. Dodge has groomed back-to-back Big 12 scholarship QBs.

8. Kelly Donohoe, Blue Springs (Mo.): Donohoe’s ’03 team won the school’s second big-school title in four seasons and finished ranked No. 14 in the National Prep Poll.

9. Dan Burke, Palm Bay (Melbourne, Fla.): Palm Bay earned its 10th playoff trip and eighth district title in 10 years under Burke this season.

10. Brent Pearlman, Prospect (Mount Prospect, Ill.): At press time, the Knights were preparing to play for their fourth state championship in seven years under Pearlman

Feedback: Who ARE WE missing?
Give us your comments related to high school football across the nation that we should know about. We might use some or all of your comments in future issues of AFM’s Prep Report. Please email us at
Jamie DeMoney is the editor of


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