Winning has become the norm at Charleston over the past decade.
The Tigers have four state championships in the past nine seasons and Doug Loughridge can be credited for much of that success.
But when the longtime coach stepped onto Alumni Field on Saturday morning it was a little different. It was the first time he’d coach there as an opponent. Even if it was just a 7-on-7 team camp.
“It’s a little odd,” Loughridge said. “I still care about those kids from Charleston. I raised them from the 7th grade on up. We had those guys in 6th grade flag football. They’re a special group.”
Loughridge took over at Alma prior to the 2013 season, leaving the door open for his former offensive coordinator to take over. Even though it’s been a full calendar year and then some since the hires took place, it’s still hard to handle.
“It’s very different,” Charleston coach Greg Kendrick said. “Great friend of mine and it’s an honor to step on the field against him. He does a phenomenal job. They are well schooled, well-disciplined and just to look over there and see a familiar face on the wrong side is kind of awkward though.”
Kendrick led Charleston to a 15-0 season and the 3A state championship in his first season as head coach but he was quick to give credit to his former boss.
“This program was tradition rich before I got here and he was a huge part of it,” Kendrick said. “This tradition can be acquired to coach Storey to coach Wood but he had a huge part in it so for me to step into this was a huge gift.”
But, like every coach says, once the whistle blows, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
“It’s kind of different but once you get on the sideline, all that is off,” Loughridge said. “It’s still competitive.”