AURORA _The man who led Aurora High School's football team during its most successful era has stepped down as the Greenmen head coach.
Ron Hegedish resigned as Aurora's football coach recently after a nine-season run that included undefeated seasons in 1993 and 1998, an Associated Press ranking as the No. 1 Division IV team in the state in 1993, and the school's first playoff appearance in 1998.
"That's something I'd like to be remembered for," said Hegedish. "I think over the last nine years we've been pretty successful at a program that wasn't very successful for the previous 30. Also, I think during that time I was always there for the kids."
According to Aurora athletic director Dick Bliss, Hegedish's ability to realize that high school football was for the kids was part of what made him such a special coach.
"Ron has always been a good communicator, and he knows a good deal about kids," said Bliss. "He does a good job and he's always had a good sense of humor. One of the things that makes him such a good coach is that he always keeps the game in perspective. He sometimes gets some heat for that. For example, Ron will have a fourth-and-1 at his own 30-yard line, and he'll decide to go for it. He's probably successful 99 percent of the time, but people will ask him why he took that kind of chance.
"He'll always say that this is a kids game. The kids play the game. If they get the first down, good. If they don't, it's still just a game. To keep that perspective is unique in today's world."
Hegedish's decision to step down as Aurora's football coach was influenced by his move from teaching fifth grade at Harmon Elementary to the new Leighton building next year.
"At (Leighton), I wouldn't finish teaching until around 3:30 p.m.," said Hegedish, who has been a teacher in Aurora for 27 years. "Not being in the (high school) building was starting to become an issue."
After a meeting with Bliss and Aurora principal Russ Jones, Hegedish decided to step down as football coach.
"I also coach wrestling and (eighth grade) track at Aurora, and they wanted me to give those up to do more things (as football coach)," said Hegedish, who has assisted Bliss with the Greenmen wrestling program for 27 years. "I like to do a lot of things, and football is just one of them. Giving up football is not like giving up my whole life. It's not easy to do, but it is also not the end of the world."
In reality, Hegedish might not be completely giving up coaching football.
"I've gotten a couple of calls, and I'm not sure I won't be coaching football somewhere as an assistant," he said.
As a head coach, Hegedish leaves a proud record. In his nine seasons, the Greenmen were a combined 59-33.
"When Ron took over, the team was just starting to learn how to win," said Bliss. "Jack Bair, who was a long-time successful coach and athletic director at Southeast, started to turn the program around. Ron was his assistant, and when he took over for Jack, he took the program to a new level of success."
Aurora won a total of four conference championships under Hegedish, winning the MAC-8 in 1992, 1993, and 1994, and the Chagrin Valley Conference in 1998.
In Hegedish's first season the Greenmen finished 8-2, beating Beachwood in the final game of the 1992 regular season to claim the MAC-8 title. The team followed that season with a perfect 10-0 record in 1993, but missed out on a trip to the state playoffs.
In 1998, Aurora again finished the regular season 10-0 to claim its first CVC championship. This time the Greenmen earned their first state playoff berth, winning their postseason opener against Sandusky Perkins.
"That whole season was one that I will never forget," said Hegedish. "To get to where we did, the kids had to beat seven teams on the schedule that we had never beaten before (Streetsboro, Mogadore, Grand Valley, Hawken, Orange, West Geauga and Perry). The kids were also able to accomplish some other things that we had never done before, making the playoffs and winning their first playoff game."
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