Detroit Loyola football coach John Callahan resigns

David Goricki
The Detroit News
Loyola head coach John Callahan gives instructions to his team as they play  Warren De La Salle in the fourth quarter.

One of the most successful high school coaches in the state this decade is looking for a new challenge.

John Callahan resigned as head coach at Detroit Loyola, which he guided to an 86-16 record the last eight years. It made four Division 7 state championship game appearances in the last five years.

Loyola lost to Ishpeming in the title game in 2012 and ’13, defeated Ishpeming to lift the crown in 2014 and advanced to the championship game again this past November, losing 28-14 to Pewamo-Westphalia.

With numbers in the 20s, Callahan didn’t shy away from playing the big boys, defeating Zeeland East (Division 3), Detroit Country Day (Division 4) and Detroit East English (Division 2) when Loyola had a 38-game regular-season winning streak from 2010-14.

Loyola played and lost to other state powers, including three-time defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in 2015 (24-12) and again this season (35-14).

Callahan said he was proud of what he had accomplished at Loyola, working with several student-athletes who had jobs during the season.

“I’m very happy with my time at Detroit Loyola,” Callahan said. “We had high character kids who worked hard. I have a lot of my former players e-mailing me and there’s no better reward than that. I feel we got a lot accomplished here.

“I just think it’s time for a change, but I’m still excited about coaching in the future.”

Callahan helped raise $45,000 to build a new weight room a few years ago, much of which came from the Ford Foundation.

Loyola president Fr. Mark Luedtke said, "We're sad to see Coach Cal go, but hopeful for his future and hopeful for the future of our program and our young men."

Loyola senior linebacker Kailen Abrams, a Saginaw Valley State commit, is happy he had the chance to play for Callahan.

“I wanted to be the best player I could possibly be for him,” Abrams said. “He was a great coach and a father figure. Of course, I have my dad at home, but the lessons Coach Callahan taught were things I’ll always remember. After we lost the state championship game he said, ‘Don’t give up, this loss doesn’t define you. The fact that you made it here, the fact that you worked this hard to be here is what defines you.’ Things like that.

“Still, seeing Coach Cal smile like that my sophomore year after we won that state championship was memorable, something I’ll never forget.

“And, I really took advantage of that weight room he got us. I was 6-foot, 195 my sophomore year, then 6-1, 215 my junior year and now I’m 225 pounds. My sophomore year my max on the bench was 225 and this year, 300.”

Abrams developed into one of the premier linebackers in the city. He earned a spot on The News All-Detroit first-team after getting in on 150 tackles, 16 for loss during his senior year. He had 16 tackles and 4½ tackles for loss in the title game against Pewamo-Westphalia.

Interested applicants for the Loyola job should send resumes to athletic director Paul D’Luge at pdluge@loyolahsdetroit.org.

Loyola is now the second Catholic League school looking for a new head football coach. Birmingham Brother Rice fired Dave Sofran in December.