Colonel Richardson and Wicomico football

Colonel Richardson High head football coach Dan Mangum led the Colonels to a 25-36 record that included playoff berths in each of the last three years.

The numbers problem was never the same in baseball compared to football.

Sure, there was plenty to prepare for in baseball. But not like football.

And the opportunities to enjoy a victory came more often and lasted longer in baseball than football.

Only now that he’s stepped down after six years as Colonel Richardson High’s head football coach can Dan Mangum perhaps allow himself the opportunity to look back at what the program accomplishment under his direction and smile.

“I am so thankful for the 2019 (baseball) season,” said Mangum, who guided the Colonels to the Class 1A state championship last year with his son Remy playing a major role. “Holy cow, my son’s senior year. All those kids that I adored and had the opportunity to coach … all Remy’s friends, from the time they were seven years old in Little League and all those things. And to go out there and do that. It’s just an amazing feeling.”

But football never offered the same vibe.

“I’m not saying this in a negative light, but in football there was no enjoyment in the moment,” Mangum said. “With football you win a game, you’re watching film on the bus home trying to get ready for the next week. You’re watching your film from that game. And you’re breaking down the things you didn’t do. And then you’re looking, trying to come up with a game plan for the following week.

“It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did,” Mangum continued. “But it’s a lot, and if you’re not in it you don’t understand. People have this idea you give the fast kid the ball and you score touchdowns. It doesn’t work that way. Football’s seven days a week. It’s hours upon hours upon hours. It’s what these coaches do, and what they go through is so much. Now that it’s over I can look back and say I enjoyed the accomplishments and those type of things.”

In his 11 years as Colonel’s head baseball coach, Mangum compiled a 178-50 record that included one state title, two region crowns, three Bayside Conference championships, and six division titles.

But what he did with Colonel’s football program was also praiseworthy.

Mangum’s 25-36 record gave him the highest winning percentage (.409) of any head football coach that held the position for five years or more at Colonel over the past 40 years. Mangum led the Colonels to a 20-21 slate over the past four years, a stretch eclipsed only by Keith Duda’s 20-20 record between 1980-83.

Colonel’s lone playoff appearance prior to Mangum’s six-year run as head coach came in 2004 under Neil Lambert. The Colonels posted regular-season marks of 1-9, 4-6 and 4-5 in Mangum’s first three years, but went 6-4, 5-5 and 5-4 in his last three regular seasons. Those last three seasons all ended with regional playoff berths — another school first — as well as the school’s first-ever home playoff game this past season.

“I always wanted to win a playoff game, which I did not do,” Mangum said. “That is something that I wanted to get to. But Colonel will get there.”

Mangum will be succeeded by James Jackson, the team’s defensive coordinator, who has been on the staff during Colonel’s turnaround.

“I think a lot of it came down to just like in baseball, we had to come up with some standards,” Mangum said of reversing the football program’s fortunes. “These kids had to meet the standards. They weren’t easy standards to meet. And that required hard work. Yes, you have to come to practice every day. You have to work hard every day. You have to watch film every day. You have to do these things every single day.

“My first year was a battle,” Mangum recalled. “You had to come in with a new thought process. You got to get kids to buy in. I think after that first year, kids started buying in and we were able to turn it around. But it’s really about structure. Kids want structure, they want discipline. They want those things in a football program and I think that’s what we offer.”

Mangum offered a solid foundation with a staff that included Lambert as offensive coordinator and Jackson. The one thing he was never afforded, though, was a deep roster.

“We knew we were a small school, and our numbers are always limited,” Mangum said. “Last year we had seven freshmen and sophomores starting on our defense. We only had 20-some kids. It’s what you do when you’re at a small school. You just don’t have the numbers.”

Mangum, who considered stepping away from both football and baseball after the 2018-19 school year, decided to stay with football one more year. He wanted to finish coaching Lambert’s son, Mason, his senior year in football.

“He and I talked and he asked me, ‘Come back one more year,’” Mangum said of Neil Lambert. “And I wanted to do that for Neil and for Mason and that group, so I did. Neil and I have been together for 15 years. I wanted to do it. I feel obligated to do it for this past season.”

And while he achieved one goal — a home playoff game — but missed another — winning a playoff game — Mangum said the pieces were in place to step down after last season.

“I think it was an opportune time,” said Mangum, who will continue teaching physical education, strength-conditioning and health at Colonel. “James has been our defensive coordinator for the six seasons I’ve been head coach and has been with the program for a long time. I highly recommended him for the job. And my daughter (Reagan) will be a senior next year (at Colonel) and she plays soccer. And Remy plays soccer at Chesapeake (College). My thought was, ‘Hey, I get to see my daughter play soccer senior year. I get to go see my son play games and then at the end of that year I can kind of move on.’”

Mangum is one of at least five Bayside Conference football coaches to step down after last season, joining Cambridge-South Dorchester’s Gaven Parker, James M. Bennett’s Glenn “Hoot” Gibson, Stephen Decatur’s Bob Knox, and Queen Anne’s County’s Donny Graef, who retired from coaching this past Tuesday.

Follow me on Twitter @Bill_Haufe. Email me at bhaufe@stardem.com

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