Darell Goddard, remembered fondly as the coach of two undefeated Oberlin High School football teams, died Dec. 31 following a stroke.
He was 88.
“We were a special group of guys and that was because of Coach Goddard,” said Richard Kretchmar, a linebacker on the undefeated teams and now pastor at Birmingham United Methodist Church in Wakeman. “So many kids had their lives changed because of him and because of that great run of football in Oberlin.”
After his first season with OHS in 1964, Goddard led the team to consecutive 9-0 records and conference championships in 1965 and 1966. After notching another seven consecutive wins to start the 1967 season to get to 25 straight, the record stood until Elyria Catholic put up consecutive 13-0 seasons in 1983 and 1984.
Goddard, a Lorain County Sports Hall of Fame member, graduated from Meadow Bridge High School in 1947 and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean War. After receiving his teaching degree from Morris Harvey College in Charleston, W.Va., he coached football in Oberlin for four years before moving on to Wadsworth, where he coached and taught social studies.
He received the key to the city of Oberlin in 1965.
“His very first speech to us in 1964 was at the field where Langston Middle School is now,” said Kretchmar. “He said, ‘There’s a new sheriff in town,’ and things were going to change. We had been beaten up for a few years in the Southwestern Conference up until then. It all sort of came together from then on for Darell Goddard and the Oberlin Indians.”
OHS changed its teams’ nickname from the Indians to the Phoenix in 2007.
Oberlin’s 1965 season included an 86-0 win over North Ridgeville and a 22-0 win over Wellington — dominant victories that were a product of Goddard’s teachings, Kretchmar said.
“He just had a formula and it worked,” he said. “He called all the offensive plays and had an entire system of the getting the plays in there. We all just had a great time together.”
Ron Rybarczyk, quarterback for OHS in the same time period, recalled the work Goddard did to help his players get college scholarships. Using that assistance, Rybarczyk went on to play as quarterback at Purdue University.
“He was the type of guy who would give any young man an opportunity,” he said. “We went on many, many visits to colleges. He would get in the car and take me to many schools in Ohio and in the Mid-American Conference. He was just that kind of guy. He would always put the player and the possibility of continuing their education first.”
Rybarczyk said he and his family had remained in touch with Goddard and saw him for the last time six months ago during a hospital visit.
“He and his wife were in the same room in a facility in Wadsworth,” he said. “We had a great time talking and he still had his Oberlin High School championship trophy in the room with the tribute to the 25 wins. It was an honor to continue to keep in touch with him as a friend.”
Residual effects of Goddard’s coaching could still be found on the Elyria Catholic teams that broke Oberlin’s consecutive wins record since Rybarczyk’s nephew, Keith, was lined up under center for them.
“My nephew was a little guy during our good times in Oberlin but his father always brought him to the games and we used to throw the ball around in the backyard,” he said. “He became a very fine football player.”
Both Kretchmar and Rybarczyk said it took a lot of factors lining up properly to create the elite teams Goddard led.
“We had a pretty amazing group of young men that came together at the same time in little Oberlin,” said Rybarczyk. “Coach Goddard will always be a special person in my life and I learned so much from him.”
“A lot of coaches preach change but only a few really mean it,” Kretchmar said. “He was blessed and we were blessed. He came at a time when there were a lot of top athletes coming through and he showed us a great system he believed in. We all believed in it.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.
Courtesy photo Darell Goddard is carried by Oberlin High School football players in 1965 after coaching the team to an undefeated season and being awarded the key to the city. He passed away Dec. 31 at age 88 following a stroke. His teams set a record of 25 consecutive wins in Lorain County that stood until 1984.