The all-time titleholder now in Ohio high school football at Marion Local, those wondering what it’s like to walk a mile in his shoes might be surprised. It’s not at all the last title that satisfies Tim Goodwin, but the path he has traveled to get there.
Maria Stein, Ohio – When I returned home to Southern Ohio in July, I took the time to visit some coaching friends who were preparing for the August start of another year of high school football at the Ohio. Camp, or what we used to call “two days a day,” was only two weeks off.
“I guess it’s going to be another big year for the MAC in your part of the state,” one, a classmate, said during breakfast at the Bob Evans in Proctorville, home of the Division V Fairland High School Dragons. “And Marion Locale?” Will they be good again, as always?
I remember him shaking his head, as if envisioning, in Ripley’s words, the eighth wonder of the high school football world.
“I’m sure they will be very good,” I replied. “But I haven’t spoken to anyone, and I know they’ve lost a bunch of really good seniors.”
“And why would that matter?” he replied. “You know, just one time, I’d love to walk in Tim Goodwin’s shoes on day one of practice and know that I’m going to have 75 kids motivated and ready to play. It must be nice knowing you have a choice between running back and linebacker. It must be nice to know that one injury won’t put your entire season in jeopardy. Tell him I’m a fan if you see him. Hell yeah…I’m a BIG fan!
And at that time, Tim Goodwin opened his 24th fall camp as coach of Marion Local this week, and yes, he had his 75 kids, and for the most part, they were driven by the latest title. to Campaign for a New Beginning. with the August 19 opener with Wapakoneta.
And when I shared this friend’s words, he took it as if it were a question about logarithms or the solution to a confusing math problem. He is, by profession, a very good teacher of mathematics.
“We actually have 70 kids out,” he corrected. “That’s the usual number. We’ve been pretty consistent there. At this point, it’s speculation to some degree. It has not always been so. But at this point, it’s a mix of emotions. It’s the excitement of the season. I am very grateful to be in the position that I am in. You compare yourself to other teams in 7v7 and how their attitude heats up – the body language of the kids – and we tell the staff how lucky we are to have the kind of kids we work with.
“Usually as staff and program we have a great time together.”
They won their record twelfth state title last year with what amounted to a beating of Newark Catholic in the Division VII Finals, 42-7… a team that later admitted to trying to pull the game run to Marion, only for the Flyers to make an adjustment on the game’s second series and beat Newark resoundingly from that point on in the air. Not their bread and butter, but something Marion performed in a “T”.
But when we wrote about it afterwards, referring to Marion as the new ‘Mt. Rushmore’ of Ohio football, there were some in northern Ohio who stood out, calling attention not to the size of the dog fight… but to the size of the dog in the fight.
“It’s not fair to compare what they did because they won those titles against Divisions VI and VII,” wrote a Cleveland respondent. “St. Ignatius (and coach Chuck Kyle) won their titles against big schools and tougher competition.
“But,” as one Columbus writer recently shared, “St. Ignatius and St. Edward can sign any player they want within a few miles. Marion can’t do that. And Marion regularly beats teams throughout the year that are perennial state champions. They beat Versailles last year, and Versailles beat Kirtland (five-time winner) for the Division V title. And this year, they will face Versailles, Coldwater, McComb… and could face Kirtland and Carey (who won Div. VI last year) if they go that far in the playoffs. Marion’s schedule, year after year, is as tough or tougher, for her size, than any school in Ohio.
None of this causes stress for Goodwin, because no one – honestly – can touch his record. He won titles in Divisions V, VI and VII, 12 titles in 23 appearances, while finishing second on three occasions (ahead of Columbus Grove and Kirtland, twice). Perhaps more impressive is their all-time tournament record… 89 wins and 12 losses.
“I like the challenge,” says Goodwin. “I think we lost 14 seniors last year and some exceptional players. But we have 14 this year who played a lot last year, so we’re not starting from zero. We have a few positions where I don’t know not how it’s going to be, but we’re on the right track, our usual track. It’s like this every year. It’s a little crazy, the kids are working hard, and it’s going forward.
He doesn’t do a handstand when he wins, nor does he carry his emotions outward when (or if) he loses. Always being the calculating mind of mathematics, he impresses as if he is always looking for one more and better solution to something. In fact, after winning the record 12th last year, I asked him, without thinking, if he would actually take the time to think about this one a bit more.
“Actually,” he said, “I’ll be thinking about next year’s team on the bus ride home.”
But there is a different and grateful side to Goodwin, learned no doubt from watching his father, Bill, coach for years at Allen East High School. And now, in its 24th year, its impact is felt in the Marion community, not only through football, but also in an administrative sense. He is no longer a class teacher, he is the principal of Marion Local and presides over one of the most impressive academic reputations of any high school in the state. There’s far more to the “Marion Miracle” than 12 state titles in football, as well as more modest totals for volleyball and basketball.
They say if you build it, people will come, and the community grows – the school grows. Typically, Marion graduates around 70 per class. But Goodwin told me recently that people were moving in and one of the elementary classes in the district now had over a hundred. It is clearly part of evolution.
“I feel a certain satisfaction now that I didn’t have in 1999,” he says. “At the time, I didn’t know what I didn’t know. Now I try to empower people more, my coaches for example… give them a chance to grow… and that gives me a lot of satisfaction. It helps the organization and you need to help your employees improve and get chances. It’s good for me at this point in my career to focus on that a bit.
“And we welcome a few new people to the community, but most of them grew up here. When they chose to come back, they chose Marion for some reason. I don’t go door to door asking them why, it’s really funny to me that they did.
“Do you remember last winter when we had all these pee-wee cheerleaders at halftime at a basketball game? I looked over there and every one of those kids, I had at least one parent in school. In fact, for the first time this year, we have two freshmen on the football team I coached with their dads in Marion. Things like this happen more often now. I don’t care why, I’m just glad it is.
How does it feel to walk in the shoes of Tim Goodwin? Well, despite those who discredit the school’s size record and legacy, there’s no doubt that all that’s been good with Marion Local since 1999 has followed proportionately, a byproduct of community character, fine details and an incredible work ethic.
Are there other titles to come? Well, that would probably follow, regardless of future growth. He never changed in his approach, and he’s not about to change now. What is change is the landscape that has benefited from its impact.
He walked out with confidence this week knowing there would be 70 kids dressed and motivated to compete.
It’s always fun, and he’s always challenged, enjoying those who would say, “Damn yeah…I’m a fan.”
Just like those who come to Marion to experience the pride of achievement, taught by someone who is usually too humble to even mention. Tim Goodwin is the first guy you notice on that Mt. Rushmore, far left… the leader.
He really doesn’t care, mind you. But he’s glad it happened.