Dolch again proves a miracle worker, reviving Morningside as he did Bowie

John Steadman

November 06, 1992|By John Steadman

Under the best of circumstances, such a transition wasn't going to be easy. Dave Dolch was taking wife, children and a bundle of enthusiasm to a new coaching job, halfway across the country, where he would attempt to resuscitate a football program in need of immediate attention.

Morningside College of Sioux City, Iowa, was entrapped in a 15-game losing streak. On the imposing recommendation of George Allen, who had coached there on his way to the National Football League, young Dolch was ordained to return respectability to a team that wanted to win but had lost the proper attitude and aptitude.

Now, in his fourth year, the Baltimore native has succeeded in giving Morningside the competitive stature he hoped was possible. There was no guarantee. His friends, though, were even more positive because they had observed him from close up. He had earlier put the brakes on what at the time was the nation's longest skid, 30 losses in a row at Bowie State, where he had given its football program a purpose.

The latest venture hasn't been easy but Dolch is progressing. Morningside is affiliated with the Methodist church, has excellent academics, a comparatively modest-sized student body (1,425) and plays football in the most demanding Division II alignment in the country. The North Central Conference has a 10-school membership that stretches over six states.

Since arriving, Dolch has guided Morningside to records of 2-9, 7-4, 2-8 and in the current campaign shows a 5-3-1 mark with two games remaining. Tomorrow, the Chiefs of Morningside visit North Dakota State, which has won 72, lost 4 and tied 2 over the last 13 years while playing at home. This underlines what home-field advantage is all about.

Dolch isn't complaining. He had some idea of what the competition would be like since he had an earlier two-year coaching stay as an assistant at Northern Colorado. "I knew the conditions," he says. "I didn't come in with any false hopes but only wanted the chance to see how I could do in a small private college that is in an exceedingly strong conference."

He utilizes 40 scholarships per year, is playing with 33 home-bred Iowa youngsters and, significantly, 16 recruits from Florida, which has become one of the most productive areas for high school football talent. "Florida is one of the few states where they have spring football and that makes a difference," he points out.

"Iowa high school football is excellent. I believe it develops a physically stronger player. Many of the youngsters play four sports. There's great community support for football. In places that are too small for their own team they have a consolidated team. In a few parts of Iowa, there's even eight-man football. It tells you how much interest there is."

Not because of old state ties, but Dolch has some Marylanders around him. He has Carroll Owens of Annapolis, Tim Kerns of Gambrills, Derrick Ruffin of Port Ritchie, Gary Kinard of Seat Pleasant, Jason Thomas, son of Clarence, the former Bowie State and Morgan coach, and Hank Williams Jr., not the singer but the tight end, of Bowie.

Asked for his coaching philosophy, he answers, "Intensity, integrity and intimacy. We are intense in regard to teaching our goals. We do it with integrity. And accomplish it with intimacy in caring about each other's future."

He points to three men in football as having a special influence in his life, namely Jim Hindman, Harry Lentz and Glen Lyle, who was his coach at Northeast High School.

As the head trainer at Sarasota (Fla.) High School, it has been Lyle who has steered him to numerous prospects playing high school football in Florida. Suffice to say, most of them never heard of dear old Morningside but give them five minutes with the persuasive Dolch and they're thinking about it.

Dolch, who also is the athletic director, played football at Western Maryland College, class of 1977, and says one of his strongest incentives to come to Morningside had to do with academics. "It's such a small school the classes are comfortable. Grades are important. Enrollment averages to about 16 students per teacher. Imagine that. It's appealing to a lot of youngsters and their parents, who want only the best learning opportunities for their sons."

The academic coordinator is on the best of terms with the coach. Mrs. Dave Dolch, the former Kim Nichols of Salisbury and also Western Maryland College graduate, is scholastic adviser. Cumulative grade averages are up from 2.19 to 2.71 in the 3 1/2 years, which proves Mr. and Mrs. D. Dolch, on the football field and in the classroom, have the winning touch.

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