During his 57-year high school football coaching career, Bill Bohren amassed a record of 309-177-6. His team won numerous league titles and playoffs his game, and in 1987 Boardman his team advanced to the Division I State Title his game.
Bohlen also owns the state title ring. Oddly enough, it’s from one of his only four years in a period when he wasn’t on the sidelines.
The ring is the 2017 Steubenville state championship ring. This was given to Bohlen as a token of appreciation from Big His Red’s coach, Leno His Saccocha.
“Bill gave me the opportunity to do what I do today.” Saccocha said. “He gave me the opportunity to return to Steubenville.
Like many of Bolen’s former players and colleagues, Saccocia spent the past week reflecting on Bolen’s career.
Bohlen, 88, announced his retirement from coaching last Tuesday. He resigned from Mathews after serving his two years.
Bohlen coached at Steubenville from 1975 to 1977. While there, he hired Saccoccia as his assistant. Saccoccia has won over 400 games since taking over the program in 1983.
“I was an assistant at United Local at the time, and wrote several letters expressing my interest in joining the building staff.” Saccocha said. “He likes to write me weekly begging letters and joke around until I finally give in. But he gave me a chance. We’ve been close friends ever since.” It continues to exist.”
Saccoccia says that beyond friendship, Bohren was a great leader.
“Everything I’ve done on the sidelines is thanks to Bohlen.” Saccocha said. “I’ve assisted six head coaches and none of them has the drive, drive and dedication to the profession that Bill does.”
“Being by Bill’s side and seeing how he planned and prepared the game all week long, that’s what made me the coach I am today. His hard work, his knowledge and his love of the game. is incomparable.”
During his coaching days at Mahoning Valley, Dick Angle banged heads with Bohlen many times. Angle was coaching at Ursuline when Bohlen was at Boardman. The two were then at odds with each other when Angle was at Howland and Bohlen was at Niles.
Angle and Bohlen were fierce competitors. They were also best friends.
“It’s not all been rosy for us. That’s for sure.” Angle said with a laugh. “I mean, there was a time when we really butted noses. We shook hands and went out for drinks.”
“Maybe we’ll get serious after the game. We were yelling at each other and getting excited. Then there was the handshake and it was like, ‘Tell your family that I said hi. liked it. That’s the beauty of Bill. “
Angle said he, Bolen and the late Phil Anarella regularly had dinner together while in Howland. “It’s about discussing football, but mainly about solving the world’s problems.”
Angle believes Bohlen’s greatest attribute is his ability to build programs from scratch. He said Bohlen has a knack for building interest in football wherever he goes.
“He was like Pied Piper. He went into a program with a handful of players and then found out that the numbers were 30, 40 and more.” Angle said. “He did a great job of marketing himself and his program. His charisma, especially his integrity and love of the game, made kids want to join his program.”
“He would present the plan. He would show the kids how things would be and he would follow through. You wanted to be a part of what Bill put together.”
Rich Palumbo was an assistant under Bohlen at both Niles and Lovelay. Palumbo was only 19 years old when Bohlen first hired him as a middle school coach in December 1995.
“Two things immediately struck me about Bill. Palumbo said. “With him, it was one complete staff. Everyone worked together, everyone was on the same page. It was a sight to behold.”
“The second thing is that Bill set the bar straight away. There was no playoff talk before Bill arrived. Niles was very average at best and that was mostly accepted. came in and immediately created a winning atmosphere.”
Palumbo recalled the final game of the 1996 season, in which Bohlen played the underclassmen for much of the second half, much to the dismay of the seniors and their parents. Bohlen was then subjected to severe criticism while boarding the team bus.
“We went back to school and met as a team. Then he sent the seniors off.” Palumbo said. “Then he told the rest of the team, ‘I run this program, but I’m not a mom or dad. We will always do our best for this program.'”
“The next year we went 3-7 and missed the playoffs. We had two great years after that. Bill always has a plan and sticks to it.”
Palumbo described Bolen’s knowledge of the game as follows: “Off the Charts”. I know my future opponents for years “It shows his attention to detail and his understanding of his team and their opponents.”
But beyond football, Palumbo said Bohlen’s best attribute is his loyalty.
“For 27 years he has been my teacher, mentor and dear friend.” Palumbo said.
Matt Estes is also quick to speak out about Bohlen’s non-game impact. Estes was an All-Ohio tailback who led Niles in 2000 with his team to his 11-2 record and on his game journey to the regional title.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a father, but Bohlen played that role in many ways.” Estes said. “He was like a father or grandfather in my life. I sat in his office for days and just talked about life. He shared many of his experiences. “
“I was really blessed. You can see how changed my life.He was amazing in that he treated all the players the same.Everyone felt part of something special. .”
Jack Grudich echoed Estes’ comments and called Bohlen. “Ultimate Player Coach” Grdic noted the fact that the roster expanded each time Bohren took over the program.
“It was no coincidence. The players wanted to play under Bohlen.” Gurdic said. “He has impacted the lives of so many young people. Many of his former players have found success after football. He was a big reason for that success.”
Grdic was a member of the ’87 Boardman team. He said Bohlen was firm and fair to all of his players.
“Bill was a disciplinarian, but in a good way, he had a witty side that everyone loved.” Gurdic said.
After hearing Bolen talk about his 57-year football journey, Ray Byers says his former coach hasn’t changed much over the years. served as senior vice-captain of the football team. This was Bohlen’s first year as head coach.
Byers was the guard and linebacker and was responsible for kicking duties. He is the only player in Ohio High School history to earn all-state honors.
“What I remember most about Bohlen is his great smile. He was just so friendly.” Byers said. “Some of our class still meet up now and then and his name comes up often.”
“I used to be a shy farm boy, but Bohlen and football really pulled me out of my shell.”
Byers recalled Bolen arriving at Ohio High School “Just out of the military” Bring him discipline and order.
“He ran laps on the pads before every practice and emphasized the importance of being in good shape.” Byers said. “He was just starting his football career, but it turned out he had a plan and knew exactly what he was doing.”
“Everyone in town loved Bill.