It’s a testament to the success Alter has mounted, especially in the last decade, that last year’s 10-2 football season provokes a relative grimace among the returning Knights. When you play football at Alter, conference and state championships are the long-standing goals.
“If you ask every football coach in the state of Ohio before the season starts, would you take 10-2 sight unseen, I’ll bet 98 percent of them would say yes,” reflected Alter coach Ed Domsitz. “Only at Alter and a handful of other places would we say, ah, we’ll take our chances.”
Domsitz, 65, is the dean of area high school football coaches. He’ll soon begin his 42nd season as a head coach, all at Trotwood-Madison (his alma mater), Northmont and Alter.
The Knights had a program to be reckoned with almost from its mid-1960s inception. Few area teams can match their 117-15-1 success the last 10 years, which includes two state championships, two state runners-up and four teams that lost one game.
Domsitz is an admitted throwback presence on the field. He began with a veer offense that was popular in the 1970s and upgraded to the wishbone when Jeff Graham, Trotwood’s current coach, was the Knights’ quarterback in the early 1980s. Big, physical and senior-dominated teams — and the wishbone — are Alter’s trademarks.
Domsitz still teaches in a classroom at Alter that’s plastered with laminated newspaper accounts of Knights’ football through the years.
At least 13 current or former area head coaches have been an assistant with Domsitz: Dave Miller (Fairmont), Chris Roark (Fairborn), Jason Schondelmyer (Tri-Village), Tom Cody (Northridge), Dick Hoppe (Fairmont West), Larry Masters (Greenville), John Butler (Trotwood), Bill Holford (Milton-Union), Bob Reardon (Bellbrook), Craig Turner (Brookville), Charlie Hoyman (Parkway), Pat Connor (Chaminade Julienne) and Tom Meyer (Twin Valley South).
“We try to do things right,” Domsitz said. “It’s a little bit of a throwback in terms of coaching philosophy. I like coaches with gray hair. They have experience and know how to get along and relate to the kids. You’ve got to be open to listening. You don’t have to take the advice, but you have to be receptive. I don’t care who gets the credit. If it helps you win it’s good for the program.”
It takes prodding for Domsitz to commit to his most memorable former players. Playing in the NFL was the cutoff: Maurice Douglass (Springfield’s head coach), Nick Mangold, Chris Borland and Graham.
“When you’ve coached for that many years, there’s so many who were great high school players and not necessarily great college players or who went on to the NFL, but excellent high school players,” said Domsitz.
Alter will hold its camp on campus from July 25-29. Preseason practice begins Aug. 1. The Division IV Knights are a lock to earn a 16th straight postseason appearance. Both of Alter’s losses last season were to Greater Catholic League Co-Ed North rival Fenwick, including 19-9 in the second round of the playoffs. Alter opens the season Aug. 26 at Fairmont.
Domsitz has turned down opportunities to coach elsewhere and collegiately. He maintains a high level of enthusiasm for the sport.
“You do it for a variety of reasons,” he said. “You’ve got to love the game. If it’s a struggle of getting up and coming to work every day, certainly at my age, with the lack of energy at times, it wouldn’t be worth it. You look at the people who are involved, whether it’s the kids or parents of the kids, the coaches and the men you coach with. That’s all part of it and what makes it special.”
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