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Mike Humphrey becomes first former player named head coach in Le Roy

By Howard B. Owens


The Le Roy football program is a program with a lot of wins, a lot of history, a lot of tradition, and Mike Humphrey has been a part of it.

This week, the Board of Education approved Humphrey's appointment to head coach of the Oatkan Knights, making him the first former player to be named head coach in the program's history.

Humphrey was a wide receiver and defensive back with the Knights through three championship seasons -- 2006, 2007, and 2008.  He's been part of the coaching staff, including head JV coach, for a decade, and has worked for the past five years at the elementary school as a physical education instructor.

"I'm excited," Humphrey said. "This is something I've been a part of for a long time, as a player and as a coach.

"This is something that has always kind of been on my mind, and so here we are," he added. "I'm excited to get the process going."

One of his assistants, Jim Bonaquisti, who was also once his coach at Le Roy, said Humphrey clearly has a plan and is already moving forward to get the team ready for the 2023 season. 

"He knows what he needs to do," Bonaquisti said.  "He knows what it's supposed to look like.  He's going to do a great job."

With Humphrey and assistants Pete Green and John Whiting, Bonaquisti will be working alongside three coaches he coached when they were high school players.

"Either I've been here a long time or I'm getting old," Bonaquisti quipped.

But that's all part of the tradition, said Bonaquisti, who serves as the team's historian.  

"He was a hell of a player," Bonaquisti said. "He was an all-state player.  He was a really good college player at Cortland. He's in the Top 10 among receivers in several categories at Cortland. He's young, and hopefully, he's going to stay a while."

Humphrey replaces Brian Herdlein, who has been head coach since 2015.  Herdlein, who previously served as an assistant under Brian Moran, lives in Batavia, and Bonquisti said Herdein's sons are coming of age in Batavia's football program, and he wants to be around to be part of their football careers.

"We all get it," Bonaquisti said. "When I was JV coach, I had to miss one of my son's Little League games, and I said, 'Never again.'  We love him.  I loved coaching with him, and I understand."

It's been a few years, however, since the Oatkan Knights claimed a sectional title.  There was even talk earlier this year, because of declining participation numbers in football, of merging the Le Roy program with Cal-Mum.  That isn't going to happen, and Bonaquisti thinks Humphrey has the experience, knowledge, and commitment to return Le Roy to championship football.

"It's time for another title," he said.

Humphrey said he feels good about the program.  He coached winning teams at the JV level for five years and said there are players coming up who can help the team win.

"We have a lot of skill position players coming back at the varsity level, and while we lost some on the lines, we've got great players coming," Humphrey said. "I'm confident in their skill and their ability.  I've got nothing but confidence and enthusiasm for our kids."

Photo: Mike Humphrey on left.  Photo by Ed Henry.

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