Keel, Gene


Gene Keel earned a total of seven varsity letters while competing at Otterbein, earning the honor all four years in track and field and then three times on the football gridiron.


A 1953 graduate, Keel played for head coach George Novotny and then finished his career under Hall of Famer Harry Ewing. His class beat rival Capital three of four years, with the only loss coming by one point, and outscored the Crusaders by a combined margin of 115-54.


Keel went on to a decorated high school coaching career, most notably at West Jefferson High School where he compiled a 157-40-4 record spanning 22 years at the helm from 1958-79. He won 13 league championships, made three playoff appearances, claimed two UPI state titles (1962, 1977) and reached the pinnacle in 1976 by leading the Roughriders to the 1976 Class A State Championship.


A 2x Ohio Coach of the Year and 2x Citizen Journal Coach of the Year, Keel ultimately coached 50 years with other stints coming at Chillicothe, Hilliard, Teas Valley and Capital. He was inducted into the Ohio Coaches Hall of Fame in 1984.


In addition to coaching duties, Keel served a 34-year stretch at West Jefferson as a teacher, guidance counselor and athletic director. His favorite memory at WJ was winning the 1976 state championships, and his favorite memory from Otterbein was meeting his wife, Doris.