McLaughlin named longest tenured head coach for WSC

Hunter Kiburz, Staff Writer

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The longest tenured coach for Wayne State College football team is head coach Dan McLaughlin, who is entering his 15th season with the Wildcats.

Before coming to Wayne State, he coached high school football all over Nebraska, especially in the eastern part of the state winning championships at three different schools. McLaughlin won the Class A state title at Millard West in 2001 when his team went 12-1.

He also coached at Norfolk High School from 1988 to 1994, then lead the Panthers to the Class A state title in 1994. And in his only season at Broken Bow High School in 1987, he led the school to the Class B state title.

He is believed to be the only high school head coach in Nebraska to win state titles at three different high schools. McLaughlin ended his high school coaching record at 110-59.

McLaughlin is the all-time wins leader at the school so far with a record of 75-81 (.481) and a 71-70 (.504) in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. McLaughlin currently sits second as the longest tenured coach in the conference behind rival Winona State’s Tom Sawyer who has had his position there for 24 years.

“I’ve coached for 24 years at different high schools in Nebraska, 19 of those years I was the head coach, then in 2002 I got the opportunity to be a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln,” McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin stayed at UNL for two years before getting an offer to be the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach at Minnesota State Mankato.

After a season or two at Mankato, the opening for the head coaching job at WSC opened up and McLaughlin jumped on the opportunity to become the coach and hasn’t looked back since.

McLaughlin turned the program around quickly and had a winning season for six straight seasons, which hadn’t been done since the football program started 102 years ago.

“Coach McLaughlin has helped me understand responsibility and has allowed me to become the player I am, and by believing in me and providing me countless opportunities to continue play the game of football,” senior defensive lineman MJ Blankenfeld said.

McLaughlin became the winningest head coach for the Wildcats in 2015 when WSC defeated Concordia-St. Paul. He notched his 63rd win as the Wildcats head coach and passed legendary Del Stoltenberg who won 62 games over his 14-year tenure as the head coach for the ’Cats.

“We had a poor year last year record wise, we were 3-8 and that was very disappointing but my expectations this year are to be vastly improved team, I think we are, I think we have the opportunity to do that, and I think we will be much better,” McLaughlin said.

WSC had their first shutout win last year for the first time since 2011 when they went to Minot State in October and finished the contest with a score of 34-0.

One of the best seasons the Wildcats had under McLaughlin came in 2008, they were predicted to finish seventh in the NSIC out of fourteen teams. That all changed when McLaughlin coached the team to a 9-3 record and gave the program’s first ever playoff berth in NCAA D-II. The Wildcats also rallied off seven straight wins to finish the regular season and earned a share of the NSIC division title, tying with Minnesota State (8-2).

“We all expect a winning season this year, and for Coach McLaughlin personally I know he is trying to grow and advance his style of coaching in order to fit into today’s style of play… If you ask players around the team they will tell you they are seeing a new approach from coach, which was a nice surprise,” Blankenfeld said.

When McLaughlin was hired, he was the 21st head football coach at WSC, he came from Minnesota State in Mankato where he helped turn around the team to a 6-5 record after 0-11 season before he got there. It was Mankato’s first winning football season since 1994.

Wayne State College
Dan McLaughlin is preparing for one of the many football seasons of his career as the longest tenured head football coach in Wayne State College History.

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