Running the road to 150

19 Years and 150 wins later, Coach Ramsey finds a home at Elder High School

“When I first started, I always felt that if you are going to be good you have to be able to run.” 150 wins later Coach Ramsey is still running.

Doug Ramsey loved the sport of football from an early age. After a stellar high school career as a quarterback at Reading High School he knew he wanted to be a football coach. Influenced by his high school coaches Ramsey took his first job coaching the Reading Jr. High football team. Passionate about coaching he eventually moved on to Elder High School as an assistant under Tom Grippa. Former Elder Quarterback and Mount St. Joseph All-American T.J. Hilvert (’94) knew Ramsey was destined for bigger and better things, “He was a great teacher, very patient and always willing to help.”

Athletic Director Dave Dabbelt knew too. When Tom Grippa left for Fairfield after the 1996 season the choice for a new head coach was an easy one. “Coach Ramsey had been with us as an assistant for about 7 or 8 year at that point. To me he was one of those guys that had all the ingredients necessary. He was a football guy but more importantly a good team guy. He was definitely interested not just in star players but all the players. To me I thought that was an ingredient we definitely needed.”

Coach Ramsey started the 1997 season by knocking off Middletown 32-14 for win number one. Six weeks later Ramsey picked up win number 5 and his first GCL win, by beating LaSalle 14-6.   Elder fans immediately noticed a change in the offensive style. Ramsey explained his offensive philosophy, “When I first started, I always felt that if you are going to be good, you have to be able to run the ball. But then I became influenced the more I got into coaching, spending time with coaching staffs like when Urban Meyer was at Bowling Green, and Utah. Just getting ideas from guys like that.” As the offense continued to light up the scoreboard the win column started to get crowded.

On November 6, 1999, Elder defeated Oak Hills 14-0 for Coach Ramsey’s first playoff win (win #24). The following week however, was much more memorable as Elder scored 21 points in the final 3 minutes to stun Centerville (win #25) . Offensive Lineman, Joe Doogan (’00) recalls, “It was funny talking to people later on who said they left the game thinking we lost, only to end up celebrating in the parking lot listening on the radio. I am sure Elder has had more important victories, obviously two state championships and some other big wins, but you would be hard pressed to find a more exciting finish to a game. I don’t recall any great speech that took place. It was more of a, what the hell happened to our lead, followed by how the hell did we comeback and tie this game, then holy @#$% we just won. The Miracle at Middletown is what we call this one.”

The wins kept coming and so did “Elder Nation” as evident by the OHSAA record crowd of 47,743 at Paul Brown Stadium on November 11, 2001 to watch Elder knock off, for the third time that season, the number one ranked team in the state. This time it was Colerain and Elder rolled to a 35-21 victory (win #44). Playoff success, five regional finals in a row, and experience led Coach Ramsey and the Panthers to new heights and bigger stages. All-State defensive lineman Tony Carvitti (’03) remembers how Coach Ramsey handled the Panthers first State Championship, 21-19 victory over Warren Harding (win #58), “One of the best attributes about Coach Ramsey is he always wanted the kids to have fun. He wanted to teach lessons and he always had a smile on his face.” This laid back attitude was contagious as wide receiver Jeff Vogel (’04) remembers, “Before every playoff game Coach Ramsey would always get excited when hearing Black Betty by Ram Jam. It became our good luck song.” Although being loose was important it was Coach Ramsey’s strategic decisions and player relationships that impressed wide receiver Billy O’Conner (’05), “Not only is he a great X’s and O’s coach, but he is a great motivator as well. You always knew he was going to put you in the best situation to be successful.” This preparation led to a dominating 2003 playoff run that culminated with a 31-7 victory of Lakewood St. Edwards (win #72) and sealing back-to-back State Championships.

Coach Craig James (’93) was one of Ramsey’s first hires in 1997 and has been with him through all 19 seasons. One of the games that stands out in his mind was the Charlotte (NC) Independence game on September 1, 2007, when Elder came from behind and won 41-34 in OT to break their 109 game win streak. Coach James explained, “We spend so much time together. That’s the one thing we value most. The state games, the St. Ed’s game last year, the Independence game, those are the big ones, those are more important to him than his milestone wins because everyone gets to enjoy it.” Lineman Pete Bachman (’10) echoed those sentiments as he reminisced about the day Coach Ramsey tied the school record with win #111. On September 9, 2009 Elder beat Colerain 20-7 in front of 13,000 fans at The Pit and a live nationwide audience on ESPN. “We were so excited to be playing on ESPN and in front of 13,000 fans in The Pit, and Coach Ramsey’s leadership and calm demeanor was the reason the team was able to stay composed. Coach Ramsey is a very humble person and as I look back now and realize that, I’m sure he sees this 150th win as being a product of loyal and hardworking players and coaches that he has surrounded himself with while at Elder.” The following week Coach Ramsey broke the school record with his 112th win, a 26-7 victory of Louisville Trinity.

In week 2 of the 2015 season, after a 15 hour lightening delay, Coach Ramsey picked up his 150th win by defeating Lakota West 34-17. Quarterback, Peyton Ramsey was excited to be a part of his father’s milestone win, “It’s definitely something special, being around the games. It’s just a great feeling being a part of the win.” Coach Ramsey agreed that family enhances the moment, “It makes everything more special, because you’re coaching your son. Anytime your kids are a part of what you’re doing makes it more special.”

After 19 season, Dave Dabbelt knows he made the right choice, “I think it was a great decision, it’s one of those things, again where, I still see how everything is, you know, a great guy, a great teacher, a guy that is concerned about all the players whether it’s a starter or whether it’s a third string guy. You know 150 wins is good, but being a great person is even better.” Coach Ramsey looks back and sees special moments, “There are a lot of them, I don’t know if I’ll pick out a team, I think, I’m more proud that our teams are very competitive and play with class.”

Fans may ask what Coach Ramsey has left to accomplish? Where he sees himself in 10 years? Coach Ramsey has an easy answer, “I wanna win a State Championship again! Right here at Elder High School. I’ll be what 59? Yeah I’ll still be working here.”

“When I first started, I always felt that if you are going to be good you have to be able to run”, 150 wins later Coach Ramsey can stop running. He has found a home at Elder High School.