They are unified in principle, unwavering adherence to a disciplined system — and success.
They operate their respective programs on synthetic surfaces 15 miles apart, and deep into the postseason settle in to their Dome away from Home.
David Hogan of Chenango Forks and Matt Gallagher of Maine-Endwell share Elite 24 Coach of the Year billing upon steering their respective ships to repeat state championships.
For Forks, 2014 brought a second successive 12-1 season and Class C state title.
For M-E, the four-season record is 51-0 and the state-championship string is at four.
In concert with valued assistant coaches critical to each side’s achievements, Hogan and Gallagher oversee football programs that are not only indisputably Section 4’s finest in every which way, but which bear a strong resemblance to one another.
“You’ve got the right kids who are doing what you ask them to do. We have some very, very good ones and so do they,” said Hogan, who in seven seasons at the helm has guided Forks to a 69-10 record.
“I have all the respect for what they do,” said Gallagher, 73-9 in his seven seasons atop M-E’s program. “If we can be put in the same category as them, I feel pretty lucky.”
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Maine-Endwell’s Gallagher is the consummate winner
For Chenango Forks and Maine-Endwell, success is not dependent upon unleashing that super individual or two, never is. Rather, it is about sustainability of a tried-and-true system that has produced big-time results, and which can be presented as an example to the latest line of varsity newcomers.
Here’s what we do, and we win. Want to be a part of it? This is how you will contribute.
And darned if teenagers aren’t repeatedly, unfailingly plugged into positions and roles that make them as collectively productive and fruitful as those who preceded them.
Expectations are out of control from those beyond the inner circles of each program, as their respective followers have been spoiled beyond what is reasonable by year-upon-year success. However, in reality, those expectations are no higher than those which exist from within.
Asked if on Day 1 in August Forks’ staff saw Week 13 potential from these Blue Devils, Hogan replied: “Yeah. Without a doubt we do. It won’t be anything different next year. Not that we talk about it much, because we talk about staying in the moment and we focus on our next opponent.”
For Gallagher and M-E, “The Streak” has taken on a life of its own, only enhancing pressure to build it to heights that’ll not be approached for decades. But streak aside, the mission is to succeed against the upcoming opponent — and only afterward begin preparations for the next.
“It’s more, we just don’t want to lose,” Gallagher said. “It’s not, if we lose, there goes the streak. I just know they don’t want to lose, whether it’s the first game we lose after this streak or whatever, they just don’t want to lose. Especially come state playoff time, they know a loss means they’re not going to be state champions. That in their minds is unacceptable.”
Each coach also had now experienced the joy of sharing first-hand with his family the elation of a championship season.
For Gallagher, sons Adam and Drew were starting players this season and, in the late going once the Ivy League season had run its course, son Kyle was also on the sideline to contribute what he could.
Team Hogan formed this season on the Blue Devils’ sideline, with daughter Meira a team statistician and son David a ball boy, each first-timers in their respective roles. As for sharing every step of the championship season with his children, Coach Hogan said, “Can’t even explain it. I’m a proud Dad. Pretty special.”
Maine-Endwell’s fourth consecutive unbeaten season has left the program a 51-game win streak that is co-best all-time with Hornell. And, yes, sole possession would mean a great deal to those involved.
“I think it’d be huge. I think it would be a culmination of all the work these kids have put in,” Gallagher said. “We’re not naïve over here, we know everyone works hard. When people say ‘We work so hard, we deserve it,’ well, everyone works hard. … But from how hard they’ve worked on and off the field, what these kids have accomplished so far, I think it would be a little disappointing if we didn’t get that next one.”
One game separated Chenango Forks from a perfect 2014 season. That was a 20-7 setback Oct. 10 at Maine-Endwell, where upwards of 8,000 people gathered to witness the most ballyhooed high school football game in recent memory.
Hogan was asked if there was anything the Blue Devils did not accomplish this season.
“To me, ultimately we want to be state champions. So I’m very satisfied with our season. Couldn’t be happier,” he said. “I will take one loss for the rest of my life if we can have a state championship. I have utmost respect for those guys. If we’re going to lose a game, I’d just as soon lose to them.”
On Twitter: @PSBKevin