Granite City High School is entering a new era in its athletic program.
Carl Luehmann, who led the Warriors football program through the last nine seasons, has resigned to focus his remaining three years in education on teaching math.
This comes as the school awaits a vote by members of the South Seven Conference on making the Warriors the seventh member of the league. Granite City High School District 9 voted in May to leave the Southwestern Conference after the 2017-18 school year.
South Seven administrators are expected to vote on the application Tuesday.
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“There are a lot of unknowns as we enter this new era,” said Granite City athletic director John Moad. “But it’s exciting all at the same time.”
Luehmann, 54, said the break with his coaching duties is not connected in any way with the school’s break from the SWC, though he admits it creates a clean slate for his replacement.
It’s an exciting time for him, too.
“There are just some things I’d like to do personally,” Luehmann said. “One of my grown kids just moved to Myrtle Beach, and another lives in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, so I plan to spend some more time with them and hang out more with my dogs.
“I just figured 30 years of coaching was enough, though I’ve enjoyed it very much.”
Both Luehmann’s children, Carlee and Paige Luehmann were accomplished soccer players, earning scholarships, respectively, to McKendree and Southeast Missouri State.
Luehmann worked as an assistant coach at Collinsville High School and Collinsville Middle School before moving on to Granite City to lead the basketball Warriors for eight seasons. His 2001-02 team was the program’s last to win a boys basketball regional.
The job Luehmann really wanted came along in 2010, however, when J.D. Lorton stepped down as head football coach.
In terms of wins and loses, Luehmann’s tenure with the football Warriors has been a mixed bag. He led them to the Class 7A playoffs in 2011, just their fourth postseason berth in school history and second in 20 years. But the Warriors went winless in nine games the following season.
After consecutive 4-5 seasons in 2016 and 2017, Granite City thought it could take the next step with speedy sophomore Freddy Edwards at quarterback. But after a 2-0 start, Edwards went down for the season with a shoulder injury, and the Warriors didn’t win another game.
“Carl is a hard working guy,” Moad said. “I’ve been down this road before and know from experience that being a varsity coach is not easy by any means. In today’s world, the demands are almost year-round, which is tough to do.
“Carl’s competitive. These last years haven’t been easy for him.”
I coached a lot of good kids, and through the years, there are some who maybe weren’t the most talented, but you enjoy working with them because you can watch them work and see them grow as players and as people.
Luehmann said the regional basketball championship and football playoff run stand out in his memories, but he’ll mostly miss working with the student-athletes.
“I coached a lot of good kids, and through the years, there are some who maybe weren’t the most talented, but you enjoy working with them because you can watch them work and see them grow as players and as people,” he said.
“Most high school kids aren’t going to make it to college or the pros, so you just try to instill in them through discipline and work how to make a life for themselves. When you see them later, and they have careers and families, that’s the ultimate reward of what we do as coaches.”
Moad said now that the school board has accepted Luehmann’s resignation, the head football job will be posted internally and outside the district.
“We’ll see who applies,” Moad said. “I think it should be a pretty attractive opportunity considering the athletes we’ll have coming back and, we hope, a relationship with a new conference.”