Ken Hofer Retires

June 12th, 2012

Assistant Sports Editor
Menominee, MI - Marinette, WI


Photo By: EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

MENOMINEE - Walton Blesch Field is a football fortress but the legendary structure may have been rumbling from its foundation Monday morning.

Ken Hofer, who built Menominee football into a state powerhouse, announced his retirement after 41 years as coach of the Maroons.

“I’ve been working up to it for a period of time,” said Hofer. “At my age of 77, it’s time to take a breather. I’m very weary at the end of practices. It’s tough to get going again.”

Hofer, who is a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches and Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, admitted the decision to step away from the sidelines was a difficult one.

“Coaching is in my blood, but the body isn’t cooperating,” he explained. “I’ve had my turn and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I had the opportunity to coach fine young men and some young ladies, too, and it was all to my benefit.”

Hofer’s retirement also ends the 36-year coaching tandem with defensive coordinator “Satch” Englund, who is also stepping aside.”I’m done,” said Englund. “I just didn’t feel comfortable going on. Ken gave me a chance. I never went to college, but he took me under his wing.”

Englund was a Pop Warner coach for 13 years before stepping up to the varsity.

“At first he did everything himself. You have to get his trust,” said Englund. “He made me defensive coordinator.”

One of the most memorable moments of Maroon football history is Hofer and Englund embracing after winning the Class BB state championship in 1998 at the Pontiac Silverdome.

“We’ve shared a lot of emotion and a lot of love together,” Hofer said. “I enjoyed every minute with him.”

Hofer had a 314-119-1 record in his four decades as the Maroon coach. Including his two seasons as coach at Stephenson, he had a 320-128-3 career record.

The Maroons turned in back-to-back unbeaten runs to the Division 5 state titles in 2006 and 2007. The 2006 team allowed just 44 points in 14 games and outscored its five playoff opponents 207-6.

Menominee appeared in eight state semifinal games under Hofer, won eight regional titles and eight district titles. The Maroons received the Barber Trophy as the Class A-B Team of the Year in the U.P. 13 times.

Hofer led the Maroons to 12 Great Northern Conference titles, including seven undisputed titles. Menominee also won three ABC Conference titles under Hofer.

Hofer’s career as the Maroon coach began with a 7-7 tie with Stambaugh on Sept. 2, 1966, after two years as coach of Stephenson, his alma mater.

His first victory was against Escanaba (18-4), in his second game as Menominee coach.

Dan Flynn, who retired as head coach at Escanaba this spring, cited Hofer’s value as an educator as well as a coach.

“Menominee has lost a really good person,” said Flynn. “Obviously, Ken has made a big impact in football, but he made just as big an impact in education. I remember him as a principal and athletic director, as well as a football coach.”

Flynn added that Hofer and Englund’s greatest strength was getting young athletes to realize their full potential.”That one-two duo has been very effective with kids,” Flynn explained. “Ken and ‘Satch’ were just super with kids, especially kids who were troubled. They helped them get through it. That’s the thing people don’t realize.

“Those are the most important things and those are the things Ken Hofer took care of. Ken Hofer and his staff took care of their kids. They loved kids and they loved to coach.”The state title seasons are some of the favorite memories for Hofer, but his fondest memories are about helping young people achieve their full potential.

“Working with young people on the demands needed to get the job done,” Hofer explained. “All of the times they gave their best. That’s the most rewarding.”

During his long tenure as coach, Hofer has kept in touch with his former players. He attends every graduation party he’s invited to and writes notes of encouragement and congratulations to mark the milestones in their lives.

“These kids give a lot,” Hofer said. “They deserve some accolades.”Menominee freshman football coach Drew Buyarski was a member of the Maroons’ 1998 state championship team.

“As a football player and a coach myself, you always have heroes,” said Buyarski. “Coach Hofer, he’s a person you can look up to and he’ll never let you down. He’s so genuine and he’s such a nice person.”

When the Maroons took to the Silverdome turf for the Class BB title game, Buyarski recalled that Hofer had his team ready for anything.

“That was something Menominee never experienced before,” Buyarski recalled. “It just goes to show how prepared he was as our coach.”

As a defensive back, Buyarski experienced the humor and stern messages of Englund.

“He wanted to keep you loose. ‘Satch’ kind of tip-toed the line. He wanted to keep you loose but you knew that you better not mess up. He would bend over backwards for anybody.”

Hofer, who brought the single wing offense back from the ashes, feels his offensive scheme may still be evident under a new coach.

“A coach told me at the U.P. track meet that I was before my time and now everyone is using the single wing,” Hofer said. “Most teams are using some version of it now.”

Menominee Area Public Schools Superintendent Erik Bergh said the head coaching job will be posted internally and a posting outside the district will be released if needed.

“We’ll start the process very soon,” said Bergh.

“We would liked to have Ken keep coaching, but we all have our limits.”

When the 2012 season kicks off, Hofer and Englund will become two of the most fervent Maroon fans.

“I’ll be watching,” said Englund. “I’ll be another coach in the stands.”

Hofer’s Legacy is More About People Than Wins or Losses


The first time I met Ken Hofer, it was a sweltering July day.

As I entered the locker room, I remarked how hot it was as I wiped my brow.

“Hot? I should make you run around the track,” he replied.

He put me on notice that day that just like his players, I would have to prove myself before I gained entry into his world.

When he got into his game mood, I soon realized that when it came to Maroon football, it was all business.

I also came to realize that Hofer was one of the most caring people I’ve ever met.

I made a conscious effort before every game to avoid him on the sidelines before games. He was locked in and in no mood for idle chatter.

Prior to a state playoff game in 1998, Hofer warned me to stay out his way. A matchup with West Branch Ogemaw Heights and the awarding of the Barber Trophy as the U.P. Class A-B Team of the Year had his nerves on edge.

Years later, a few days after my mom died, I covered the Maroons on a Saturday afternoon. When I got to the sidelines, I saw Hofer heading in my direction and started to veer away.

He came up to me and gave me a hug, expressing sympathy for my loss. That’s Ken Hofer.

He is a man who cares about people more than the wins on his coaching record. I wish I would have had a coach like Ken Hofer when I was in high school.

But I will always be grateful that I came to know him as a friend.

His coaching career may be behind him, but the effect he’s had on young people will continue to ripple through our community for years to come.

A Dream Job for Noha
Former Maroon Tailback is Named New Football Coach
EagleHerald assistant sports editor

MENOMINEE - A record-breaking tailback who is still flinging touchdown passes is the new Menominee head football coach.

Joe Noha, who joined the Maroon coaching staff in 1994 and played tailback for Menominee (1980-82), begins a new era in Maroon football following the retirement of Ken Hofer.

“It’s a great honor,” said Noha. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity of continuing the proud tradition of Menominee football. “Satch” Englund and Ken leave a huge void. They’re like Batman and Robin. I’m going to do my best to maintain those high standards.”

Dale VanDuinen was the offensive line coach of the Maroons with Noha before taking over as the Menominee athletic director.

“This is his dream job,” said VanDuinen. “He’s prepared himself to be a head coach. I think he’ll do a great job.”

VanDuinen pointed out that Noha’s commitment to young people were as important as his qualities as a coach.

“Joe doesn’t just want to develop athletes, he wants to develop good kids,” said VanDuinen. “You’re never going to replace someone like Coach (Hofer). Joe knows the legacy here. He just has to be himself and go on from there.”

The single wing offense that brought fame to Menominee will remain, according to Noha.

“I think that’s what is best for the kids and the staff and what is best for a great program,” Noha explained. “That offense is in the best interests of everyone.”

When Menominee lost eight straight games to Great Northern Conference power Kingsford, Noha implemented a weight-training program that helped pave the way to a state title in 1998 and back-to-back unbeaten state title runs in 2006 and 2007.

Noha and Englund built a defense that is one of the best in the U.P. and a cornerstone of the championship runs.

Noha, who still competes in the Menominee flag football league, combined with Scott Owens to set passing records during his career with the Maroons. He holds the school record for career passing yards (2,165), passes completed in a season (94, 1982) and most passes in a season (189, 1982) and most passes in a career (313).

He was an all-state and All-U.P. Dream Team selection at quarterback in his senior year with the Maroons and continued his football career at Saginaw Valley State University.

Following the legendary coaching career of Hofer is a daunting task, but Noha pointed out that his goal is to continue the character-building set in place by Hofer and Englund.

“The standards of Maroon football are high,” he said. “My goal is to teach young men how to be hard working, responsible men, fathers and husbands.

“The template is there. My job is to put people in the right places.”

Noha pointed out that when he struggled with a decision to remain at Saginaw Valley, Englund was there for him.

“Satch” is an incredible guy. He cares so much and he’s so witty. He’s mentored me and given me great guidance. He’s one of the reasons that I want to give back to the program.”

Jamie Schomer will return as the offensive line coach, but no decision has been made on who will replace Englund.

“We have a great contingent of coaches,” said Noha. “I’ll put together the best staff I can. I look forward to coaching with the great coaches we have on our staff.”

Noha coached the boys’ tennis team to a U.P. title and is the freshman boys’ basketball coach.

Noha will be the head coach of the East team in the U.P. All-Star Football Game June 30 at the Superior Dome in Marquette. Schomer, freshman coach Drew Buyarski and junior varsity coach Dave Mathieu will be assistant coaches.

“It’s very exciting as a coach,” Noha said. “In the previous years I’ve been involved, I’ve been very impressed to the attitude and character of the athletes. They may be the top players on their teams, but they don’t act like prima donnas.”

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