Cape’s Collick eyes 4th quarter of long career as football coach

Bill Collick

LEWES — When he was first went back to Cape Henlopen High, Bill Collick got a call from an old friend.

The friend thought the Delaware Sports Hall of Famer was a little crazy for getting back into high school football coaching.

“He said, ‘Gosh darn, why do you want to do that?’” Collick recalled. “‘You’ve already done that kind of stuff.’

“I don’t know. I guess it’s just what we do,” Collick said, answering the question. “We get a bunch of people together and see if we can do it. I think it’s a wonderful challenge.”

But, finally, Collick has decided that somebody else needs to take on that challenge.

At the age of 65, Collick has said that his 42nd season of coaching football will be his last.

To be sure, Collick’s coaching career has already made a couple of comebacks. His successful tenure at Delaware State was followed by a stint at Sussex Tech, which then turned into a second showing at Cape Henlopen, where it had all started.

But Collick, whose Vikings (0-1 Henlopen North, 2-2 overall) host Polytech (1-0 North, 2-2) today at 7 p.m., seems pretty set on retirement this time.
There are still other things he’d like to do with his life.

“I’ve been lucky with being relatively healthy,” said Collick. “I’m looking forward to some type of another journey, I am.”

Collick looks around now and finds it amazing to see that he’s coaching a few sons of men he knew when they were youngsters.

He remembers St. Georges coach J.D. Maull when he was just born and lived next door.

Collick said he likes that feeling.

“I’m going to tell you, it is great joy for me,” he said. “Those things make you feel pretty good. There’s wonderful young people and, when you were 16 or 17, you were hanging around with their fathers.”

Then there’s the call that Collick got this summer to say that the son of one of his former players had gotten into Harvard. Or the fact that a number of former players are high school head coaches or administrators.

He still gets a thrill every May when he sees kids graduate, whether it’s from high school or college.

“You say, ‘Well, what do you feel good about?’” said Collick. “I mean I really feel good about those things.

“You say, ‘Well, what other job could you have had?’ I don’t know of a better job I could have had. I feel pretty good about that.”

None of that means that Collick isn’t focused on his current team — his last team.

At 2-2, each of the Vikings’ two victories has been followed by a loss. The goal, of course, is to string some wins together — like Cape did last year when it went on a five-game winning streak before finishing 7-3.

“I’m always a guy that did with what we had,” said Collick. “We’re still working on it. I still think that we can make a football team with this group. … I tell our kids all the time, ‘Tough times are when you grow the most.’ We’re 2-2 and hitting the conference schedule. Let’s see what we can do.

“We were probably in a similar situation a year ago. And our kids really rose up and did a nice job. The opportunities are here, let’s do it. … I said to them the other day, ‘I’m looking for you to play with some passion.’ I thought at the end of last year we were playing with great passion.”

The irony is that Collick and the Vikings are trying to win with a freshman quarterback, Sam Jones.

Collick said, in all his seasons as a head coach and in all the places he’s been, he can never remember starting a freshman at QB. He’s optimistic about the young man’s future, though.

“He’s growing,” said Collick. “He’s got a lot of ability. It’s a learning curve for him.”

Then again, Bill Collick has always liked a challenge.

When he returned to Cape in 2010, the Vikings were coming off a 1-9 season. They haven’t had a losing campaign since, going 49-25 in seven-plus seasons under Collick.

“For 42 years we’ve been doing this,” he said. “We’ve had people coming back and not had people coming back. I always said, it says a lot about you — can you build a football team? Can you keep groups of people — kids, coaches — together over 10 or 11 games.

“That challenge is still very much a part of who I am.”

Extra points

• Radio station Delaware 105.9-FM will carry the Sussex Tech at Sussex Central game tonight.

• The Milford at Laurel game can be heard on ESPN 930-AM/102.1-FM,

• Smyrna has won 13 straight Henlopen North games since falling to Cape Henlopen, 43-20, to end the 2014 season.

• Three downstate teams are celebrating Homecoming this weekend, including Cape Henlopen (tonight vs. Polytech), Lake Forest (Saturday vs. Indian River, noon) and Delmar (Saturday vs. Arcadia, 1:30 p.m.).

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