Dick Tighe recently became only the 12th coach in high school history to win 400 games, and he's ready to extend that record in 2013, he told MaxPreps.
Tighe reached the coveted pinnacle when St. Edmond (Fort Dodge, Iowa)
defeated Western Christian (Hull, Iowa) 41-7 in a Class A state playoff opener. He was jubilantly carried off the field by his players and one day later he celebrated his 82nd birthday. He completed his 59th year as a head coach with a 400-154-8 record and just five losing seasons.
The longtime coach called the big victory "kind of a milestone and goal I was aiming for. I never paid much attention to it until it came out in the newspaper that I was right near the top in Iowa. It's just what I do — I teach and I coach. It's kind of in your blood. I lost my wife (Margot) in August. I'm home alone and coaching is a kind of hobby."
Tighe admits to having sore knees and he does use a golf cart part of the time during practice sessions. But when game time rolls around, he still calls all the plays. He stresses a running game and admits, "I'm really old fashioned: Woody Hayes, the belly series and I-formation. I'm a disciple of Woody Hayes and Frank Leahy."
A 1948 graduate of Homer (Neb.) and 1952 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Tighe was the seventh of nine children in a family "which farmed during the depression and I thought there was something better to do. "
He launched his career at Cathedral (Hamilton, Ontario) and won the city championship during the first year at the all-boys school. He later coached at Kuemper (Carroll, Iowa) and Webster City (Iowa) before the latter school "kind of put me out to pasture" at age 67, after 31 years.
Still wanting to stay active, he took a co-coaching position at Iowa Falls (Iowa) for four years before spending the last 11 years at his current school, which had won just two football games the previous five years and carried a 21-game losing streak when he took over. During his tenure at St. Edmond, the Gaels have won at least eight games five times.
"Right now I feel like I'll keep going," said Tighe. "I'll have to wait and see how my legs hold up."