Tom Saylor to coach in Morenci 12.17.08

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

The decades old Morenci-Hudson football rivalry will never be the same, not with Tom Saylor on the Bulldogs’ side of the field.

Saylor, 66, served as head coach of the Hudson football team for 11 years, including the eight-year run when the Tigers forged their nationally-acclaimed winning streak.tomsaylor.jpg

Including the coaching he did while still in college, Saylor has more than 40 years of experience, despite taking off three years to develop a donut franchise and the past three years in an attempt at retirement.

Now he’s discovered that he’s not quite done with coaching. You might say that Tom Saylor has an itch that needs scratching, and he’s chosen Morenci to satisfy the urge.

“It’s kind of like coming home after all these years,” said the Deerfield native. “Deerfield is still very dear to me and I owe an awful lot to Pat Connors, my football coach there. He was a coach’s coach.”

Saylor helped another Deerfield coach, Dave Hinkle, while he was still a student at Eastern Michigan University. Hinkle was influential not only as a coach.

“He taught me to do donuts,” said Saylor, who bought Hinkle’s donut shop at Lake James, Ind., in 1968.

That enterprise has provided a livelihood ever since. With the help of a son, Saylor now owns Tom’s Donuts franchises in many locations.

Saylor took a teaching job at Hudson right out of college and at age 22, he volunteered to serve as head football coach when Jack Zimmerman became ill and a replacement was needed quickly.

He left Hudson after the 1976 season—with a 94-5-1 record—to take a job at Angola, Ind., serving as head coach for nine years before stepping down to the assistant level. He moved back up to head coach for one more stint until a younger coach was established, then three years ago he left football all together.

Until now.

When Morenci’s assistant athletic director Joe Farquhar heard that Saylor wanted back in one last time, he gave him a call and Saylor was interested.

He’s aware of the football tradition in Morenci—despite defeating the Bulldogs all 11 years that he faced them—and he felt very welcomed by Farquhar, principal Nate Parker and superintendent Kyle Griffith.

“If they think it’s OK for an old guy to step in there,” Saylor said, then he’s ready to give it a try.

Although his name might be known to many parents and grandparents, he realizes that it probably means little to today’s students. That’s all right with Saylor.

“I’m not going to Morenci on an ego trip,” he said. “I’m going because I think it’s the right thing to do. I want to work with some younger coaches and see if we can get something going.

“I coach for the kids and about the kids. I don’t want it to be a spectacle about me. I want to help the kids.”

It’s not only about wins and losses, Saylor adds.

“It’s also about what you can teach,” he said. “About fighting battles to get them through life. They need to have some background in teamwork, about hanging in there when the going gets tough, about finishing what you start, about how to take care of your buddies.”

He’s committing to three years in Morenci to help establish a strong program. Saylor wants to start things off with a parents meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 30 to explain why he thinks he could be a good fit for the football program and to answer questions about his coaching.

About that itch to scratch.… Would Saylor like to reach the top with a team?

“Is there unfinished business? Yes. Is there time? In my coaching days? Lord only knows. Will it happen quickly? No.”

Sure, he would love to guide a team far into the playoffs, but there’s more to his return than that.

“That’s not at the top of the list,” Saylor said. “I just like to coach.”

  • Front.nok Hok
    GAMES DAY—Finn Molitierno (right) celebrates a goal during a game of Nok Hockey with his sister, Kyla. The two tried out a variety of games Saturday at Stair District Library’s annual International Games Day event. One of the activities featured a sort of scavenger hunt in which participants had to locate facts presented in the Smithsonian Hometown Teams exhibit. The traveling show left Morenci’s library Tuesday, wrapping up a series of programs that began Oct. 2. Additional photos are on page 7.
  • Station.2
    STRANGE STUFF—Morenci Elementary School students learn that blue isn’t really blue when seen through the right color of lens. Volunteer April Pike presents the lesson to students at one of the many stations brought to the school by the COSI science center. The theme of this year’s visit was the solar system.
  • Front.leaves
    MAPLE leaves show their fall colors in a puddle at Morenci’s Riverside Natural Area. “This was a great year for colors,” said local weather watcher George Isobar. Chilly mornings will give way to seasonable fall temperatures for the next two weeks.
  • Front.band
    MORENCI Marching Band member Brittany Dennis keeps the beat Friday during the half-time show of the Morenci/Pittsford football game. Color guard member Jordan Cordts is at the left. The band performed this season under the direction of Doyle Rodenbeck who served as Morenci’s band director in the 1970s. He’s serving as a substitute during a family leave.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016