Decision to not to renew JD Maull’s contract is befuddling

February 18, 2022

Goners - Coaching contracts are sometimes not renewed, and there are no “just cause” protections. The school always maintains the right to go in another direction. 

Looking back at the 53-year history of Cape football, it's easier to list which coaches escaped unscathed – a small number – rather than those who got balled up and rolled out the door. Let me say I have maintained loyalty and respect to all of the Cape coaches over my long career, and I never downtown a coach, because it is just such a hard job, with football the absolute hardest. Jim Alderman, George Glenn, Brian Donahue and Bill Collick all won, and all made their own decision when to get out. Bill Muehleisen got a letter from Cape in spring 1976 saying he could no longer coach because of his bad heart. In 1994, Bill won a state title as head coach of the Vikings, as in Christiana. Rob Schroeder took Cape to the state title game in 1984. In 1988, the team was 0-10, and after a 1990 2-8 season, coach Schroeder’s contract was not renewed. Then came Jim Leyh. After two seasons, he was gone. George Glenn and Brian Donahue (1993-2000) laid down eight consecutive winning seasons before handing the job to assistant Bill Geppert. Coach Geppert was gone after two seasons, then came Sean Brennan, Tom Ott and Dave McDowell. All were let go. Bill Collick came back to Cape in 2010 and served as head coach for eight years, putting together three 8-2 seasons and one 7-3 season, but the year he retired, Cape was 3-7. Before coming to Cape, as head coach at St. Georges, JD Maull amassed a record of 54-6 from 2011 to 2016, and the Hawks had two appearances in the Division II state finals in 2013 and 2015.

JD is one of six members of the Maull family to play quarterback for Cape, along with Gilbert, Jay, Lonnie, Obie and Kai. JD’s 54-6 run is unequaled by anyone Cape-connected at any level. In 2002, when Geppert was let go, he was Cape District Teacher of the Year and head coach of the swim team. Twenty years later, he is still at the helm of Cape’s successful swim team. Sean Brennan led Milford to the state softball title in 2017. Dave McDowell is a deacon in the Catholic church and gives Sunday homilies inspiring the spiritual side of people. Great people and team leaders sometimes don’t have their contracts renewed because they failed to get the job done, but what exactly is the job? What is the mission? We all agree it goes beyond wins and losses into deeper, life-lasting connections. JD is a successful connector; he knows each of his players beyond the football field. I know that because he often shared those insights with me; he was relentless in helping those kids negotiate the school day and issues that had nothing to do with football. As I told Geppert, Brennan and McDowell, “You can't chump out a good man.” All you can do is not renew his contract. 

Bracketology - There are three conference wrestling tournaments this weekend: the Henlopen, Blue Hen and Independent. Team scores are kept even though state championship teams were determined at the state duals last weekend with Cape (Division I) and Caravel (Division II) the winners. The state individual championships will be held at Cape next weekend. Each of the 14 brackets has 16 wrestlers. Placement in the upcoming conference tournaments will determine seeding in the state tournament. The Henlopen Conference tournament is Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18 and 19, at Sussex Central High School.  

Snippets - Cape sports trivia: Who is the only Cape athlete to win two individual state titles in two different sports three days apart? In 1977, Randy Johnson of School Lane in Lewes won the indoor pole vault title at UD on a Thursday night with a vault of 12-feet-6-inches, then on Saturday night at Cape, he won the 138-pound state wrestling championship.  Speaking of super-freaky athletes, Charles Turner was the 167-pound state wrestling champ in 1980 with all wins by pin except one. He was also a 47-foot triple jumper and 6-10 high jumper. Cape-connected coach John Parker was head football coach of Sussex Tech when the Ravens won the Division II state championship in 1993. Mike Tkach was head coach of Milford when the Bucs won the DII state title in 2008. Dale Steele was head football coach of Indian River when the Indians won the DII state title in 2011. Remember, a no-spectators policy is like not being invited to a party, but you can livestream it. Go on now, git! 

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