One of my first interviews way back when for our annual Pigskin Preview was with a young Mike DeVol, who was taking over as head football coach at Caldwell High School.
That was in the mid-70s, and DeVol proved his worth quickly, turning out not only quality teams year after year for 20 seasons, but a bunch of playoff squads as well at his alma mater before moving to Warren for seven successful seasons, compiling a 46-24 mark at the Warriors' grid helm.
Then five years at Parkersburg South from 2001-05 for DeVol produced 50 wins, including the Patriots' first - and so far only - Class AAA state football championship in the mud and muck of Wheeling Island Stadium in 2003.
A return to Caldwell for a second stint as the Redskins' head coach from 2008-10 completed 35 years of high school coaching in the Mid-Ohio Valley for DeVol with an outstanding overall record of 251-112-2.
Of course, I had talked with Mike on the job numerous times through the years, but hadn't bumped into him in quite a while. So when I found out he was going to be directing a youth football camp with current and former South players as instructors at Godbey Field last week that my grandson Brice was attending, I thought I'd touch base with him there to find out what he's doing now.
''I like working with kids, it doesn't matter what age they are,'' said DeVol. ''I'm teaching at WVU-P and helping out at a junior high. When we decided to do this camp, we got ahold of the South kids, and they have to understand that they're the idols of most of these young kids that are out here.
''So it's a great combination when they're teaching the younger kids here and the younger kids are looking up to them. So that's not bad.''
As usual, DeVol understated his worth to the camp, saying, ''I didn't do anything; the high school kids put it on and they get to have fun doing it, so that's what it's all about.''
Watching DeVol take the two-plus hours of the camp each day and break it down into segments, anywhere from five to 20 minutes, each with a particular purpose was the same style he employed so successfully through the years. ''That way you get as much out of a two-hour practice as you can,'' said DeVol.
Nevertheless, DeVol, at age 63, insisted, ''I've been a coach long enough.'' However, he admitted having thoughts about returning to coaching again, ''probably not as a head coach, but I will help anybody at anytime, it doesn't matter. I think coaching is probably one of the greatest professions in the world, and probably coaching isn't the word you should use, it's teaching.''
Of his return to Caldwell to probably close out his head coaching career, DeVol stated, ''I'm from Caldwell, I finished at Caldwell, and that's the way we wanted to do it.''
DeVol too said he's ''enthused about South'' football this season. ''I told these South kids that when they're out there playing this fall, they're playing for themselves, but they're also playing for every kid that went to South and every kid that's going to go to South in the future. That's what makes this type of a camp important.''
Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at firstname.lastname@example.org