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Meehan will coach final game Saturday

November 02, 2007|By BOB MAGINNIS

ST. JAMES - Chick Meehan has always followed the signs.

Meehan coached the St. James football team from 1974-99 - with a one-year sabbatical in 1991 - pushing onward until he felt it was time for someone else to take charge.

He returned to the Saints in 2004 when he sensed the program needed a change.

And now, after a four-year third stint as the Saints' head coach, he admits he has the feeling that it's time to leave again.

And this time, it's for good.

Meehan will coach his final game for his alma mater on Saturday when the Saints host Maryland Christian, ending a combined 28-year run on the school's sideline.

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No one was telling the 60-year-old Meehan to hang up his whistle. He kind of had a way to tell himself.

"I love coaching football," Meehan said. "I don't want to give it up. It's not what I want to do. My body is telling me not to do it anymore."

The coaching, teaching and game aspect of the job remains a passion, but Meehan said the wear and tear of the preseason convinced him that doing the job is a young man's profession and he isn't a young man anymore.

"I probably knew it was over about two weeks into the season," Meehan said. "I got pretty tired after the summer football camp. We had the team here for nine or 10 straight days and were with them from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. It was long because if we weren't coaching, we had to be with them. It tired me out."

Meehan will enter Saturday's game with a 141-97-1 record, including a 19-15 mark since his return in 2004. The Saints won 26 straight games from 1983 to 1986 under Meehan's guidance.

He has been a coach who learned the ropes at the private school under Dave Barr and has the enjoyment and pleasure of coaching with longtime friend Ray Montini, who is now the Saints' defensive coordinator.

Meehan helped build the Saints into a formidable program until he realized it was time to leave.

"When I retired, there weren't many kids playing football at St. James," he said. "It felt like it was time for someone else to take over."

He didn't stay away long though. Meehan came back to coach St. James' JVs in 2003 before accepting the chance to pick up where he left off in 2004.

"When I came back, there were only 18 kids on the team," Meehan said. "Now we have more kids playing than ever. We have 30 on varsity and 34 on JV. One year, we had more kids out than we had helmets."

But now, Meehan knows it's time to turn over the reins again, although he wanted to do it quietly.

"Everyone is making too big of a deal out of this," he said. "I thought about not telling anyone until after Saturday's game was done."

Meehan admits Saturday will be a sad day, but he knows it's the right thing to do. He told his wife he was quitting again. She was happy, but concerned.

"She keeps asking me if this is what I really want to do," he said.

It is. But it's not like Chick Meehan won't be around St. James' games anymore. After all, his home sits right across the street from the Saints' home field on College Road.

"I can walk out of my house and be standing on the 50-yard line," Meehan said. "It's not like I won't be there anymore. It's just that I don't have to stay."

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