Chip Lohmiller said the "timing was right" to step down as head coach of the Pequot Lakes Patriots football team, which advanced to the Class 3A state semifinals last November for the first time in program history.
"I had it in the back of my mind and had talked with (Pequot Lakes activities director) Marc Helmrichs a few years back that the 2017 season would most likely be my last year as head coach," said Lohmiller, whose resignation was accepted at the school board meeting Monday, Feb. 12. "I knew I wanted to coach this senior group through their final year. They were a special group, and so many of them played three years on varsity. I wanted to help them reach their goals of making it to state."
It was the second time in Lohmiller's 14 seasons as head coach that the Patriots advanced to the state tournament. Lohmiller, whose squads have played in the section final in seven of the past nine years, finishes with a 101-72 high school coaching record coming off a season when Pequot Lakes defeated Perham 56-22 in the Section 8-3A championship game. The Patriots then blanked Mora 34-0 in the state quarterfinals before losing to St. Croix Lutheran Academy 45-7 in the semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
"Obviously reaching the semifinals this year, along with reaching the state tournament in 2009 for the first time in school history," Lohmiller said of his top memories as the Patriots' coach. He also enjoyed the experience of watching his players "mature from mid-level football to varsity and then graduation."
"Seeing the kids play together, and bond with one another to accomplish the same goals," Lohmiller said of his coaching memories. "And watching them play together as a team. I've also enjoyed the accomplishments of all the players."
Lohmiller will continue serving as chief of the Crosslake Fire Department.
"Coaching at the next level has crossed my mind," said Lohmiller, who kicked in the NFL from 1988-1996. "I have a lot of former NFL teammates who are coaching in the NFL and college. I may look at opportunities in the future."
Lohmiller was in the news earlier this month when Minnesota hosted the Super Bowl for the first time since 1992. That last NFL championship game in the old Metrodome included Lohmiller helping the Washington Redskins defeat the Buffalo Bills 37-24 for the title. Lohmiller kicked three field goals in that Super Bowl.
Lohmiller played college football for the University of Minnesota and at Woodbury High School. But his football memories at Pequot Lakes are special.
"All of the great coaches we've had over the years, who put their time into the program like (Nick) Grunzke, Pete Ryan, Mags (Bill Magnuson), Tom Smith and many others," Lohmiller said of the coaching experience, adding that he valued "the players and their commitment and enthusiasm they brought to the field to make the Pequot Lakes football program strong and build a legacy."
Helmrichs said the search for Lohmiller's replacement will begin immediately.