In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon wrote, "As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend."
Such can be said for the football coaching staff at Independence High School led by veteran head coach John H. Lilly who will be starting his second season in Coal City after previous stints at Woodrow Wilson and Shady Spring.
Already flanked by an experienced staff for the 2019 season, Lilly added more depth to the sideline when he hired two former head coaches to join his staff as assistants — Kevin Grogg from Wyoming East and Joe Dean from Midland Trail.
"We all go back maybe 30 years," Lilly said. When they became available, it was a no-brainer to ask them to come aboard. I feel if you surround yourself with great people, great things will happen. We have all known each other for a long time and there is a lot of respect there."
Grogg was a longtime head coach in Wyoming County with stops at Mullens, Oceana and later at consolidated Wyoming East before stepping away after the 2009-10 season.
While at East, Grogg led the Warriors to a state championship in 1999 and an undefeated season.
"I knew (Kevin) had been out of (coaching) for a while. We were working camps in the summer and when I got the (Independence) job, I mentioned to him that I would like to have him come over and work with our offensive and defensive line," Lilly said.
"I am excited. I have missed it," Grogg admitted. "I didn't miss it the first three or four years, but as I have gotten a little older, when Friday nights roll around, I really miss what goes on."
Helping a friend coach was one big reason to take Lilly up on his offer, but, it was not the only reason for the veteran Wyoming County coach.
"Missing it for one, and I have a grandson that is 10 years old. I would like for him to hang around the football field as he grows up," Grogg said about why he decided to return to the sideline. "It was all part of the decision. Being friends with John, helping a buddy and to also help my grandson. Being around football was good for my son and I think it will be good for my grandson. I think he will be a good player too one day."
Dean, on the other hand, was building his vast football knowledge in Fayette County.
"I was at Fayetteville as a trainer in 1982-84. Then I was fortunate to get hired at Trail in 1985 on Jim Martin's staff before becoming the head coach at Trail in 1997," Dean explained.
Following a stellar career in Hico with a hand-full of playoff appearances, Dean stepped down in 2014, before returning to the sidelines at Fayetteville in 2017 and 2018 as an assistant for the Pirates.
The veteran coach relishes the opportunity to continue coaching at Independence.
"This is fun, my family thinks I am crazy, but, this is fun," Dean said, smiling. "Coach Lilly does a great job. I am really happy to have the opportunity to stay in coaching. Being around these young kids helps keep you going."
While Grogg handles the line on both sides of the ball and helps Lilly with the offense, Dean will be in charge of the defense.
"Getting Kevin and Joe over here is a real blessing," Lilly said. "We already have Scott Cuthbert and Richard Meece, plus we are also looking to hire Josh Evans who played football at Marshall. He brings a lot to the table. We feel like we have a really solid coaching staff that can do a lot of teaching.
Independence opens the season with the annual Patriot-bowl game at Midland Trail and hosts Wyoming East in the final week of the regular season. Playing against his old team is an experience that Dean still cannot quite get used too.
"It is an odd feeling and it's strange," Dean admitted. "I have a lot of great memories over there and I have a lot of young men that played for me over the years that come out and talk to you."
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