Football coach Ken Leonard of Sacred Heart-Griffin High School in Springfield, Illinois, recorded his 419th victory in his 500th game as a head coach Friday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign in the state’s Class 4A state championship game. He said he would now retire.
“I said, ‘Enjoy this because it’s really hard to get here and really hard to win,'” the State Journal-Register quoted him as saying about the title game. “You’ve got to be good; you’ve got to be lucky.”
The state title, putting the finishing touch on a 14-0 season, was the sixth in the coach’s career, as SHG also won it in 2005, 2006, 2008, 2013, and 2014. In his career at SHG, which began in 1984, he has averaged fewer than 2 losses per season, an impressive record of consistency. His total wins, however, 419, is more than any other varsity football coach in Illinois history.
“Some of my best teams never made it,” the Chicago Sun-Times quoted him as saying. “Sometimes you just get on a roll. There are so many little things you have to get past. … It went by in a blink. When I started, I never dreamed I would coach 500 games.”
The final score of the game was Sacred Heart-Griffin 44, Providence Catholic (from New Lenox) 20.