WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The kickoff to the high school football season is the beginning of the end for Darrell Crouch.
“I sent my wife a picture this morning that said ‘Last first day.’ It’s been an unbelievable 19 years,” said Crouch.
His 37th year as a coach is crouch’s 19th at Washington. He’s won 145 games as the Panthers head coach and only missed the playoffs twice, his first two seasons on the sidelines.
His final Washington team features a massive 27-player senior class that is motivated to send him out a winner.
“We want to make sure we send him out with a bang,” said senior receiver Brayson Barth. “Coach Crouch has done a great job here. We want to send him out on a good note.”
Crouch says he has 115 players in his program this year. It appears they all want to win for him.
“It’s stuff we said all summer, make his last season special,” senior Jase Harlan said. “It’s a super special feeling. There’s some weight on our shoulders. I’m ready for it. Ready to do this for him.”
No doubt it’s a sentimental year for Crouch but he thinks it’s also going to a big one for the Panthers. It’s a veteran team with with high expectations.
“I told those guys a year ago that we are seniors together,” said Crouch. “Having 27 of those guys (along for the ride). The finality of knowing this is the last year at this place.”
Longtime assistant coach Todd Stevens has already been named Crouch’s successor. The Panthers hope to make it a long season for Crouch, making a deep playoff run.
“It’s definitely something. We want to be there,” said senior running back Kainon McQueary. “It’s his last year, our last year. We all want to go out big.”