Jim Kiechle has "retired" as an assistant coach at Lowell.
He got his 40 years in with the IFCA and got his plaque. Then, he told Devils' coach Keith Kilmer he was "done."
"He'll be making trips down to Florida and Savannah, Georgia," Kilmer said. "I coached with him on the offensive line for many years and I called him the voice of reason."
Fellow assistant Jim Carlson had some different thoughts on his old friend.
"He would always say, 'We don't need to change anything,'" Carlson said. "Then he'd give you 10 ideas to change everything. He was the first guy to say we needed to shrink the playbook. Then, he'd give you six plays."
Kiechle coached at Lowell for 14 years at Lowell, on the staff of three state finalists teams. He is still listed as a volunteer assistant and does come around here and there.
But only when the Winnebago isn't gassed up heading south. -- Steve Hanlon
How are the knees?: Portage quarterback Gage Pearman and running back Rashim Simpson both tore ACLs five days a part in the winter, Pearman in basketball, Simpson in track. Pearman is back in action, while Simpson is still awaiting his medical clearance and isn't likely to be ready for the start of the season.
"Gage is still a big question mark," coach Wally McCormack said. "His best attribute is his ability to run and throw. There's a fine line between working him hard enough to get back in shape and get his confidence up cutting, and pushing him too hard."
Simpson has looked good working on the side, but has yet to practice.
"His best ability is sticking his foot in the ground and cutting," McCormack said. "Watching him move around, he's still got it."
The dropoff at quarterback is dramatic, while depth at running back isn't an issue. McCormack expects the versatile Nathan Cherry to fill in capably while Simpson is out. -- Jim Peters
Going the opposite direction: Former River Forest quarterback JJ Pennington has graduated, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see the Ingots come out and pound the ball on the ground this season.
However, coach Jeff Bean isn't afraid to say his team may do the opposite with the development of signal-caller Brandon Laas.
The original plan was to start Luis Cordero at QB, but Laas' improvement means Cordero will be the main running back. The Ingots also plan to switch from a traditional shotgun offense to the pistol offense.
"We knew he had the tools," Bean said of Laas, who had to wait in Pennington's shadow for his chance. "He got hurt last year, too. He broke his collarbone in the Lake Station game." -- Matt Douthett