MENOMINEE - A legendary high school coaching career ended Monday when Ken Hofer of Menominee announced his retirement.
Hofer compiled a 342-136-3 record over 41 seasons, taking the Maroons to state championships in 1998, 2006 and 2007.
The Stephenson native coached for his alma mater before joining Menominee in 1966. His son, Chris, is head coach at Kingsford High School.
Hofer also served as athletic director, principal and assistant principal over the years at Menominee.
"I've been working up to it for a period of time," Hofer told the Marinette Eagle-Herald. "At my age of 77, it's time to take a breather. I'm very weary at the end of practices. It's tough to get going again."
Hofer, who is a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches and Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame, admitted the decision to step away from the sidelines was a difficult one.
"Coaching is in my blood, but the body isn't cooperating," he explained. "I've had my turn and I've enjoyed every minute of it. I had the opportunity to coach fine young men and some young ladies, too, and it was all to my benefit."
Menominee superintendent Erik Bergh said in an email announcing Hofer's retirement "his impact has been felt for generations, and his legacy will continue to inspire students into the future,"
Dan Flynn, who retired earlier this year after 26 years as head football coach at Escanaba High School, told The Daily Press that Hofer's departure was somewhat surprising.
"The face of Menominee football is Ken Hofer," said Flynn, noting stability of the coaching staff that includes veterans Ron "Satch" Englund and Joe Noha has been a major factor in the program's success. Englund is also retiring, after 36 years with the Maroons.
"Those coaches and kids are going to miss him a lot, and so will many members of the community."
Escanaba and Menominee are two of the longest-running football programs in the state and have been playing since 1897, with the Maroons holding a 60-50-3 edge in the vaunted rivalry.
"That football rivalry was important for both communities," said Flynn. "You knew the game was going to be real competitive. Both teams looked forward to this game. You knew you were going to get Ken Hofer and Menominee's best shot. It was enjoyable."