Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Vulcans Coach Awaits Challenge Football

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Vulcans Coach Awaits Challenge Football

Article excerpt

Mike Kellar knew that John Luckhardt was considering retirement, but didn't think it would happen this quickly.

"We actually joked about it a few days before he made his announcement," said Kellar, who has replaced Luckhardt as head coach of the California University football team. "I joked that he probably had more games ahead of him than behind him. When I got the call a couple nights later, his retirement came totally out of left field."

Luckhardt, who had an 88-33 record in 10 seasons at California, including three trips to the NCAA Division II semifinals, stepped down because of health concerns. He missed the final game last season after he was hospitalized with a kidney infection.

"Coach Luckhardt meant the world to me," Kellar said. "I think I'm safe in saying the whole staff felt that way."

Luckhardt's 40-year coaching career also included a 17-year stint at Washington & Jefferson College, where he compiled a 137-37-2 record.

"John has agreed to help the university with fundraising," said Kellar, when asked if Luckhardt is totally out of the picture. "I also told him that I will be calling on his great knowledge of Western Pennsylvania football at times. Nobody knows Western Pennsylvania football better than him."

Kellar is in his second coaching stint at California. He previously served as the Vulcans' offensive coordinator from 2004- 08. He left the following year to become head coach at Concord University in West Virginia. Before his arrival, Concord had managed only one win in the previous two years and hadn't had a winning season since 1998.

Kellar led Concord to a 14-8 record in two seasons, including an 8-3 mark in his second season, which marked the first eight-win season for the program since it joined NCAA Division II in 1993.

"I was very happy at Concord and would have stayed if it wasn't for a series of phone calls from coach Luckhardt prior to last season," Kellar said. "He asked me to come back as offensive coordinator. He also pointed out that he would be retiring in 2-3 years and I would have a shot at becoming his replacement. There were no promises. The only guarantee I got was that I would be interviewed for the job. …

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