Toog McKay Named Assistant Coach of the Year
The Campbell Conference, of which Ellsworth High School is a member, named Toog McKay the Assistant Coach of the Year. To understand what Toog has meant to the Ellsworth Football Program, I am sharing what Head Football Coach Duane Crawford read at the banquet.
"To understand how much Coach McKay’s involvement with Ellsworth football has meant to the program I need to go back to my junior year of high school football.
I met Coach McKay my junior year in high school as one of my high school coaches never thinking we would one day be coaching together. In 1976 he started as an assistant, at MDI . He would coach there another 5 years as an assistant then became the head coach, a position which he held for 22 years when he retired as head coach.
When Coach McKay heard that I was going to be coaching (and starting) the Ellsworth High School team as a co-op program, with Sumner, he asked if I needed any more coaches. That conversation ended up being a 10 year coaching commitment for the Ellsworth/Sumner program that progressed from a club sport to a JV program to a varsity program. Coach McKay volunteered his time for the first 8 seasons as the entire coaching staff was all volunteer. He helped lead the program into the playoffs for two out of the three years it has been eligible and was instrumental in bringing the football tradition back to Ellsworth who hadn’t had a football team in over 50 years when we started the program.
Coach McKay also volunteered his time in the weight room as he oversaw our lifting program 4 days a week. Once again up until the 2018 season everything was on a volunteer basis. The first years were trying as a coaching staff as we were building a program. We went 27 games without a win. Many weeks it was trying to win small battles; getting a first down, completing passes, stopping a team on a drive. It was very trying each week knowing that you could not win the upcoming game but still keeping the players motivated and moving the program and the players forward. That alone would have discouraged many unpaid assistants but Coach McKay didn’t back down from the challenge. He continued to help us build football and bring it to the point that the last three seasons we go into each year not just thinking about building a program and players but being a successful program.
Coach McKay has been the defensive coordinator for the program these past 10 years as well as linebacker’s coach and running back/skill player coach. He has a vast knowledge of the game and without his commitment to the game and the un-tolled hours of volunteering he has done the program would not be where it is today.
Since the program, up until last year, was all volunteer, I didn’t want to take coaches away from their family life on the weekends to break down film etc... Our film sessions consisted of “Toog” and I spending hours on the phone over the weekend and after practices breaking down tape and formulating game plans for the upcoming week. While Toog would work out the defensive wrinkles he also had a lot of input on the offensive side of the ball as well as special teams. Given his extensive experience, coaching high school football, I almost always deferred to him with any questions about what we were installing for the week how to accomplish our goal of winning that week’s game.
2019 saw the Ellsworth/Sumner program make the jump to 8 man football; one that was met with a lot of trepidation by many in the football community. Coach McKay looked at it as another challenge and put his all into it. His note book(s) (which he always carried with him) were full of Defensive schemes as well as offensive and special teams. He coined the term guardackle as the offensive guard now occupied both the guard and the tackle positions. He was instrumental in our overall success on the year and making it to the playoffs the inaugural year of 8 man football and keeping it fun for all of our players. Football is Coach McKay’ second and maybe at times his first family. He has been a constant with Ellsworth football and one of the most knowledgeable coaches in the state. I can’t say enough about his commitment and love of and for the game. Without “Toog's” involvement the Ellsworth/Sumner program would not be nearly as successful as it has been. Whether you count success in the Win/Loss column or the development of young men Coach McKay has been at the forefront of Ellsworth football this season and the past 9."