EATON TWP. — For almost four decades Bill Albright has spent his Friday nights on the sidelines at Midview High School, molding boys into men and winning a lot of football games along the way.
Prior to the Middies’ 30-14 win Friday over neighborhood rival North Ridgeville, Albright announced on WEOL 930-AM that this will be his final year of coaching after spending 37 years at the school, the last 28 as the head coach.
“I just think it’s time,” he said. “My daughter is graduating from high school this year. I want to be able to visit our other kids who live all over the place. It just seems like the perfect time. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now. This year’s football team is a really good group of young men.
Everything just seems right to go out now.”
The 58-year-old Albright will leave a legacy not just at Midview but across Lorain County, where two of his former players — Chad DiFranco and Jason Ward — are head coaches, as well as the state.
Albright has a career record of 172-104 and a resume which includes seven appearances in the state playoffs, coaching in the 1999 North-South all-star game and leading the Ohio squad in the 2012 Big 33 Football Classic, which the Ohio team won 24-21 in overtime. He was also president of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association.
“Coach Albright has done so much as a spokesperson for the game of football in Lorain County and across Ohio,” said DiFranco, Amherst’s coach and a 1992 Midview grad. “He’s been a great advocate for his players and all of the players to make sure that they received the recognition they deserved.
“He had a big influence in me becoming a football coach and I still lean on him to this day for advice. My first year of coaching was on his staff. That was truly a positive experience. And he always told me, ‘Do what you believe in and do what you think is right.’ Those words have guided me throughout my coaching career.”
Albright, who also teaches biology at Midview, said it’s hard to pick a favorite memory from his coaching career because he has been proud of every group he’s coached. He also said one of his greatest joys came from having his own children involved with the Midview athletic program.
When asked if there was one game or one season that stood out from his career, Albright, who also coached baseball, softball and girls freshman basketball during his tenure at Midview, said he could never choose just one because every team and every player left its own mark on the program.
However, Albright did say the 1998 playoff win against Richfield Revere, the only postseason win in school history, and a 1991 win against Cleveland Benedictine and legendary coach Augie Bossu are games that stand out in his memory.
Ward, Columbia’s coach and also a 1992 Midview grad, said that Albright has had a huge influence on the community both on and off the field.
“He deserves a key to the city for what he has done for close to 40 years,” Ward said. “So many people I know who played with me or guys that played before or after me have had their lives improved by playing for coach Albright. He has been a mentor and role model to me and, in later years, he has also become a friend.”
DiFranco and Ward agreed one of their best memories of Midview football was when Albright and his wife, Lisa, would open their home to the team on Thursday evenings. The players would watch tape of the upcoming opponent and eat pizza in the basement.
Ward began his coaching career at Midview, guidfing the freshman team in 2000.
“Coach Albright gave me my start and was also open to allowing me to hang around the varsity coaching staff to see how they prepared for games,” Ward said. “Anytime I have had a question as a head coach, no matter if it’s X’s and O’s or how to handle a discipline problem, Bill Albright is the first person I call. It’s great to be able to have that relationship.”
Albright gives all the credit for his success to his players and to the support the program has from the community.
“The administration here has always been supportive,” he said. “The parents have been good. We created the Touchdown Club in my second or third year here. We would not be where we are right now if not for the support and the generosity of the community.”
For the past 13 summers, Albright has also worked at Oberlin Golf Club. In retirement, he hopes he will be able to spend more time on the golf course.
A 1972 graduate of Norwalk High School, Albright spent five years at Bowling Green State University and has been teaching at Midview ever since.
“I went from being a Trucker to a Middie, maybe two of the most unusual nicknames in all of Ohio,” Albright said with a laugh. “But I have loved every minute of it.”