Legendary Edgerton football coach Jack Gregory dies
EDGERTON—When Jack Gregory was named head football coach at Edgerton High School in 1976, the Crimson Tide had been in the bottom half of the Rock Valley Conference for several seasons.
By 1979, Gregory’s Crimson Tide advanced to the WIAA state championship game, beginning a long run of success that lasted until the head coach retired in 1995.
On Saturday, Gregory, 78, died at his home after a long battle with health issues.
Gregory collected 217 victories in his 38-year head-coaching career, which began at Blanchardville in 1958. A 1953 Delavan-Darien High graduate, Gregory graduated from Milton College in 1958.
After two years at Blanchardville High, and seven years at Iowa-Grant High, Gregory took over at Big Foot High in Walworth from 1968 to 1975.
His Chief teams won three Southern Lakes Conference titles in that span.
Gregory then moved to Edgerton, where he would make his biggest coaching mark.
During the next 20 seasons, the Crimson Tide would win undisputed Rock Valley Conference titles in 1979, ’80, ’84, ’89, ’90 and ’95 and shared titles in ’81 and ’82.
Edgerton teams earned playoff berths in all those seasons and also in 1983 and ’88.
He earned the respect of fellow coaches along the way.
Gary Larsen, who made his own niche in Rock Valley Conference football history as the Brodhead-Juda coach, considered Gregory a mentor.
“When I first started coaching in the league and started to get the program turned around, I always had a couple of obstacles in the way,” Larsen said Saturday. “One of those was Edgerton. When we started getting better, I considered it really important to some time beat him.”
The reason was he considered Edgerton a model program.
“They were the top program in the league,” Larsen said. “Year after year, they turned out good teams. Even when they thought they had a bad year, it was still pretty good. I always wished I could have been a little mouse and sat in a corner and watched how they ran practices and how they organized things.”
Larsen couldn’t remember the exact year his Cardinals finally did beat Edgerton, but he does remember it was a rainy night and that the regular officials did not show up. Coaches from both teams served as the officiating crew.
Larsen respected Gregory as a man as much as a football coach.
“When I really got to appreciate Jack a lot was at Rock Valley Conference meetings,” Larsen said. “He was a person of reason. He sat back and didn’t say a lot, but when he said something it was really important. He had a way of filtering through all the political stuff.”
Dave Wedeward, the long-time sports editor of The Gazette, is an Edgerton native and follows Crimson Tide football closely.
“Jack had that level of respect throughout the Rock Valley,” Wedeward said Saturday. “His teams displayed class and sportsmanship. They never ran up the score on anybody. Some of those teams could have run up scores in the 70s and even 80s against some teams, but Jack never allowed that type of thing to happen.”
Gregory was inducted into the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 1997. After he retired from Edgerton, he served as an assistant coach at Beloit College until 2006.
“He was a great guy,” Larsen said. “He loved football and he loved kids.”
On Friday night, Edgerton High, now coached by Jack’s son, Mike, clinched a share of the Rock Valley Conference North title with a 37-13 victory over Clinton.
It was the school’s first title since 1995, Jack Gregory’s last season as head coach.