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South Umpqua to honor one of coaching’s best, Wigle

Before Kent Wigle led Marshfield’s football team to one of the dominant programs in Oregon, the legendary coach had similar success at South Umpqua.

The two sides of Wigle’s coaching career come together Friday night in what South Umpqua has dubbed the Wigle Bowl.

The Pirates visit the Lancers for the first time since Marshfield dropped down to Class 4A and South Umpqua is using the occasion to name its football stadium after Wigle.

The coaching legend, who has never been one to toot his own horn, said this week that he is honored by the recognition, and that he wants to share it.

“I think it’s a great honor,” Wigle said. “It’s an honor for all the people you worked with. Yeah, my name goes on the stadium, but it’s all about the coaches and student athletes you worked with.

“That’s why I got in the business in the first place. It’s all about the relationships.”

Wigle will be recognized during halftime of Friday’s game. He plans to thank a lot of the people who were part of his journey as a coach at both schools.

“Maybe I will ask any athletes who played with me — either at Marshfield or South Umpqua — to stand up and be recognized,” he said. “And maybe the coaches, too.”

That could be a lot of people.

Wigle hasn’t done a close study of the South Umpqua roster, but just from reading reports in the newspapers knows that he coached the dads of at least six or seven of the current Lancers, including quarterback Erik Johnson and running back Shawn Rigsby.

At Marshfield, Wigle coached several members of the current coaching staff.

Wigle grew up not far from Myrtle Creek in Riddle. He coached at South Umpqua for 17 years before coming to the South Coast.

He led the Lancers to four state championship games, including one win, one loss and two ties, before the Oregon School Activities Association adopted its overtime policy. Ironically, both ties came against South Coast teams — Gold Beach in 1976 and Siuslaw (quarterbacked by current Vikings coach Tim Dodson) in 1981. South Umpqua beat Tillamook for the 1977 state title. The loss came to Vale in 1975.

Wigle’s record at South Umpqua was 134-39-2. He followed that by coaching Marshfield for 21 years, a stretch when the Pirates were 173-60 and won the 1992 state title (the Pirates also were runners-up in 1994).

Between the two schools, Wigle went 307-99-2 overall and 38-23-2 in the playoffs. He retired as the second winningest coach in Oregon history. He was named the national coach of the year in 2005.

Wigle won’t be the first South Umpqua coaching legend to be honored at the football facility.

The field already is named for Frosty Loghry, a legendary coach of football, basketball and baseball at Myrtle Creek High School. When the Myrtle Creek and Canyonville school districts merged in 1964, Loghry became the first athletic director at South Umpqua High School.

When he first started at South Umpqua, Wigle coached baseball with Loghry, who died in 2012 at age 94.

Wigle said he is excited that the sign recognizing Kent Wigle Stadium will be on the roof of the stadium, against the film booth. He built the booth with fellow coach Jim O’Connor — Wigle said O’Connor was the technical expert on the project while he “did the grunt work.”

Appropriately, Friday’s game matches two teams that are having the type of seasons he used to enjoy.

Marshfield is 3-0 in the Far West League, tied with North Bend for first place. South Umpqua is 2-1 after losing to the Bulldogs last week. Both teams will end the year in the postseason.

It would be fitting if the Wigle Bowl is great, just like the man being honored at halftime.