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Coach created John Hardin football as a powerhouse

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Editorial: Jan. 30, 2013

TOPIC: Mark Brown's retirement
OUR VIEW: He has left a firm foundation

It started on a Friday night on a football field in Bowling Green. That’s when the Mark Brown Era at John Hardin High School began.

It was Aug. 24, 2001. It was not a pretty night.

The start of football at John Hardin ended that night with a 61-14 loss to a Warren East team that would only win four more games the rest of the season.

That game was far from a signal of things to come under Brown at John Hardin High School. He quickly built the Bulldogs into a powerful program.

Brown, who recently announced he was ending his coaching career after 36 years, will credit his coaching staffs and dedicated student-athletes for the program’s development. He shuns credit his way because he so completely believes in the “us” mentality.

But Brown is a vital reason why John Hardin football has been the elite program in our area for nearly a decade.

It didn’t take long for Brown to work his magic at the school. By his second season, the Bulldogs already had a winning record.

At John Hardin, his teams went 116-34 and the lone losing season was in the program’s debut when he took a team without seniors into competition.

There have been few football programs in our area in the last four decades as dominant as John Hardin in recent years. Only Fort Knox’s run in the 1980s and in 1990 can compare as sustained dominance.

Brown has left his mark on the John Hardin program for many reasons, few more important that he built it his way from the very start. Few coaches have faced that type of challenge or been able to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing their program progress through the seasons, each year learning a little bit more.

Coaches have learned plenty under Brown’s guidance and players have been able to continue their football and academic careers because of his lessons learned.

In three coaching stops at Marion County, Nelson County and John Hardin, Brown compiled a 272-121 record in 32 years as a head coach and ranks in a tie for 11th on the Kentucky High School Athletic Association’s all-time win list. He won a state title at Nelson County and guided John Hardin to a Class 5-A state championship appearance in 2009.

John Hardin went 13-1 last season, won 11 or more games six consecutive seasons and seven of the last eight and won 64 of their last 65 regular-season games. A state title would have been nice, no doubt, and there have been a handful of postseason close calls.

“You can never predict what’s going to happen, but we’ve built a good program,” Brown said.

John Hardin has been a lot better than good. And Mark Brown is a very big reason why.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.