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High School Football: Longtime coach McFadden out as head of Hamburg varsity football

After 22 seasons with the Hamburg varsity football program, the last six as the team’s head coach, Mike McFadden has stepped aside. The school has begun looking for a new coach. (Photo courtesy of Ron Larson)

Longtime football coach Mike McFadden will no longer head the Hamburg High School varsity team.

McFadden will step away after 22 seasons with the Bulldogs’ football program, 21 with the varsity team and the past six as the head coach.

A physical education teacher in the district since 1998, McFadden posted a 17-37 record as a head coach, but enjoyed a ground-breaking season in 2009 and had a passion for helping his student-athletes mature.

McFadden, an Orchard Park graduate who played college football at Canisius, sees this as an opportunity to spend more time with his family, which includes a young daughter.

“I’m going to take some time,” McFadden said. “I want to explore other options in life.”

He comes off three straight under .500 seasons in which Hamburg missed the playoffs. His best season as head coach came four years ago when the Bulldogs also opened the new turf field and lighted complex at Howe Field, a project he and Bulldogs Boosters helped to spearhead.

That season, Hamburg enjoyed a trip to the Section VI Class A semifinals and went unbeaten until late in the regular season. The program is still in search of a first sectional title.

“Mike decided that it was the time that he wanted to step back,” Hamburg athletics director Greg Witman said. “He’s done some nice things with the program. I appreciate his time and energy. His character will be missed.”

The position has been officially posted at the school’s website and applications are being accepted. Witman said he believes there may be some good candidates within the district who would get consideration.

“You like to look in-house first, but at the end of the day we’re trying to find the best person to bring the program forward,” Witman said. “As we do in all of our hiring, we’ll look for the best candidate for our district and the kids.”

Witman said, like with all of his programs, he wants his varsity football team to be successful. “We play to win at this level,” he noted.

McFadden has always emphasized his players’ growth as young men. In the past few seasons, he has also recognized the teachers who assist the players in the classroom with a night in which the student-athletes pick their most influential faculty members and have them honored before a game.

He’s thankful to the Hamburg community and the young men that have been brought his way.

“The kids in Hamburg are great,” McFadden said. “I’m going to continue to fully support them and whoever gets the job next.”

Though he wants to take some time to reevaluate his path, McFadden does not see this as the end of the road in his career on the gridiron. “I’m not done coaching,” he said emphatically.
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