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NFL star, Boone County mourn legendary coach

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Posted at 3:03 PM, Feb 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-18 02:46:11-05

FLORENCE, Ky. -- Owen Hauck used to keep a legal pad and red marker next to his bed during his high school coaching days.

The longtime football coach might jot down a note or sketch out something in the middle of the night and share it with his assistants the next day – or even that night. Football was Hauck’s ultimate hobby.

“You might get a call at 3 Sunday morning or be told to be in the office at 5 a.m.,” remembers his former Mount Healthy assistant Bill Fridman. “I loved it.”

Hauck’s cursive handwriting was exquisite. He often quizzed his assistants on schemes. His organization and attention to detail was superb.

“We met at his house for Football 101,” remembered Mount St. Joseph defensive coordinator Rick Thompson, who started with Hauck as an assistant in 1985. “He taught us everything we knew.”

Likewise, the players understood their responsibilities.

“He was old school in the sense you had to be tough in order to play for him,” said former Boone County tight end/defensive end Ben Brown. “We had only one goal, and that was to play for a state championship.”

Hauck, who won two state titles and had a 284-130-4 career record coaching at four area high schools, died Wednesday morning. The Fort Thomas resident was 88.

He is survived by his son, Doug, of Fort Thomas. Hauck is preceded in death by his wife, Shirley, and his other son, Glenn.

The visitation will be 4-8 p.m. Feb. 23 at United Church of Christ in Fort Thomas. A service will be held from 10-11 a.m. Feb. 24.

Former NFL running back Shaun Alexander, who played for Boone County from 1992-94, will be in town next week to remember Hauck.

Alexander told WCPO.com Wednesday afternoon he has complete respect for Hauck, not only as a coach but also as a principled man.

Alexander, arguably the greatest running back in Greater Cincinnati high school history, said he learned life lessons he applies to this day.

Hauck used to travel to the University of Alabama to watch Alexander play for the Crimson Tide. The coach also made it to Seattle to watch the former Parade Magazine and USA Today All-American play for the Seahawks.

Alexander spoke by phone to Hauck in recent days.

Alexander, who rushed for 6,662 yards and scored 110 touchdowns in his prep career, tweeted several of Hauck’s quotes throughout Wednesday morning.

“He taught a bunch of young boys how to be men,” Alexander told WCPO.com.

“And to take responsibility of being a great player and being a great teammate. I thought it was just a great honor to be coached by him. The thing he did best for all of us young men was he made us all look our opponents in the eye and not fear the greatness that we could do. And not fear having to fight your way to go be a champion and stand up for something that’s bigger than yourself, which is family and team – and, of course, life itself.”

Hauck, inducted into the Buddy LaRosa’s High School Sports Hall of Fame in 2007, started his coaching career at Burlington High School in 1953 (which became part of Boone County in 1954).

One year later, the Ludlow native joined close friend Homer Rice at Highlands. When Rice left for the University of Cincinnati, Hauck compiled a 48-8-1 record, including the capture of the 1964 Class AA state title, according to the LaRosa’s Hall of Fame.

In 1967, Hauck joined Rice again for one season as defensive line coach at UC.

The next season, he joined Mount Healthy and helped turn around the program. Mount Healthy won the Hamilton County American League title in 1971. He had a 26-21-3 record from 1968 to 1973 at Mount Healthy.

“Discipline was an absolute must as coaches as well as players,” said Fridman, who started as a 25-year-old assistant coach in 1968 and later became Mount Healthy’s head coach for 21 seasons.

In 1973, Hauck returned to his Northern Kentucky roots and accepted the head coach and athletic director positions at Boone County. In 25 seasons with the Rebels, he was 210-101 with 16 district championships, 11 regional championships, the at-large state title in 1986 and four state runner-up finishes (1986 4A, 1987, 1992 and 1994).

His record was 210-101 at Boone County when he retired at the age of 70 in in 1997 after 25 seasons.

In 1998, he received the National Football Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. Hauck, a 1945 Ludlow graduate, is also in the Northern Kentucky Sports and the Athletic Directors Hall of Fame and the Kentucky State High School Hall of Fame.

In 2003, Boone County named its football stadium in his honor.

Today, the Rebels play games at Irv Goode Field at Owen Hauck Stadium.

The coaching tree extends far and wide with Hauck. Steve Klonne, Dave Eckstein, Rick Thompson, Bill Fridman, Charlie Fredrick, Marty Steele, David Trosper, Bill Herman, Fred Bernier, Bob Berta, Bryson Warner, R.J. Riegler and Mike Murphy are some of the individuals who became head coaches in the area.

Despite all the accolades, former players said Hauck truly wanted the best for the team.

“He was somebody who cared about you,” said Boone County athletic director Marty Steele, who was a lineman from 1980-82 and later coached defensive linemen under Hauck starting in 1986.

“You were in awe of him when you got up (to the team). He was larger than life to all of us.”