Ex-head coaches offer wisdom as Franklin assistants

There are Grizzly Cubs and grizzled Cubs.

Falling into the latter grouping in the Franklin football program are assistant coaches Mike McClure and Roger Dodson, men whose gridiron careers date back to an era when draw plays were considered cutting edge.

McClure, 67, and Dodson, 66, are the senior members of Chris Coll’s 16-person coaching staff by approximately the length of a football field. And while neither is the dominant voice heard at Grizzly Cubs staff meetings, there were times when they were.

Dodson guided the team for a decade (1986-95), a stint that included four winning seasons and runner-up status in the Mid-State Conference his second-to-last season. McClure served as Franklin’s head coach from 2005 to 2008 and retired as the school’s assistant athletic director at the end of the 2018-19 school year.

“Having these two guys in our program is a huge asset,” said Coll, now in his fourth season. “It means a great deal to me that they are willing. I take a lot of pride in the fact they think it’s worth their time to be involved in what we are trying to do here at Franklin.”

The 2020 season marks McClure’s 16th straight working with Grizzly Cub players in some capacity. Prior to Franklin, McClure, now the Cubs’ quarterback coach, was head coach at Morristown (1981), Franklin College (1989-97), South Bend Adams (1998-2001) and Elkhart Central (2002-04).

Dodson works with Grizzly Cubs quarterbacks and receivers while also playing a significant role within Franklin’s freshman team.

On the gridiron and on film, there isn’t much this pair of northern Indiana natives — Dodson graduated from Bremen in 1972, a year after McClure graduated from Griffith — hasn’t seen.

Dodson retired from teaching six years ago and stepped down as Greenfield-Central’s coach after the 2015 season. He is enjoying his second tour of being a Grizzly Cub again and all that the job entails.

“It’s been 25 years since I was head coach here, so I’m starting to see the kids of some of the kids I coached at Franklin. I’ve had fun every day of it,” Dodson said. “When you spend as much time as we have with football, from playing it as little kids to coaching, you obviously love it.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t enjoy it.”

Overall, Dodson compiled a record of 101-128 in 23 seasons as a head coach. He was at Greenfield-Central for 10 seasons, Franklin for 10 and, prior to that, Indian Creek for three (1983-85).

Dodson is one of only three former Grizzly Cub coaches to exit with a winning record, having gone 47-46. Coll is the 14th head coach in the history of Franklin football, which dates back to the 1941 season.

Even though Dodson finished with more career victories, it’s McClure who’ll forever own bragging rights. In a 2007 sectional opener played at Franklin, his Cubs downed Dodson’s Greenfield-Central squad, 35-7, in their lone head-to-head coaching matchup.

The two coaches now enjoy working together.

“For one thing, I still really have a lot of fun,” McClure said. “It’s like a magnet. It’s hard to get away from it because I still enjoy doing it and enjoy the relationships with the coaches and players.

“And the game continually changes. It’s different than it was just 10 years go. Roger and I have seen a lot of things, but I’m learning just as much from Chris. It’s amazing what we do now compared to when I played in high school.”

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Indian Creek at Greenwood, 7 p.m.

Warren Central at Center Grove, 7 p.m.

Shelbyville at Franklin, 7 p.m.

Edinburgh at North Decatur, 7 p.m.

Franklin Central at Roncalli, 7 p.m.

Whiteland at Gibson Southern, 3 p.m. Saturday