BY DEAN HOCKNEY
KOKOMO, Ind. – For the first time in more than a decade, the Kokomo Wildkat football team is leaderless. In a surprise development, head coach Brett Colby announced he was retiring, effective immediately. Colby took the football program to a level of competitiveness not seen in the class era.
“All I ever wanted to be was a head football coach,” Colby stated in his resignation letter. “I have been able to live my dream for the past 28 years, the past eleven here at KHS. With a heavy, but full heart, I am giving my notice to resign as the head football coach of Kokomo High School as of February 12, 2018.”
Colby took over the Wildkat program in 2007 after Wayne Lance Jr. had won just nine games during his three-year tenure. The Kats had not won a North Central Conference title since 1996 and had just one sectional championship trophy in the display case (1985). But Colby had an immediate impact on the Kats program, bringing a run-first mentality that was nearly impossible to stop. In year one, Colby led Kokomo to an 8-2 record with a perfect run through the NCC to capture the first of five consecutive conference titles.
Despite the dominance of the Kats in the NCC, tournament success eluded Colby until 2015 when Kokomo defeated Muncie Central and Huntington North to claim the programs second-ever sectional championship. One week later, after a 21-19 win over Westfield, the Kats earned its first regional title before losing to Fort Wayne Snider in the Class 5A Final Four. Kokomo made it two consecutive sectional titles in 2016 and the 2017 was the best-ever for Kokomo with a third straight sectional and second regional championship. Then, on a rainy November evening, the Kats defeated Michigan City in the semi-state to earn a berth in the Class 5A state championship game. Despite a 42-28 loss to Columbus East, Colby’s Kats showed they belonged on the state stage.
But restoring the Kats to glory took its toll on the 1981 Western High School graduate. He said he had a feeling he had coached his last practice just prior to the state championship game.
“My days as a head coach are over,” said Colby, the 2017 Sports Journal Coach of the Year. “I am honestly worn down. The honor I have to go out on my own terms as a head coach is an unbelievable feeling of satisfaction. The feeling of coaching my last game as a head coach for Kokomo High School, at the state championship level, will stay with me until the day I pass from this earth.”
Colby, a six-time NCC Football Coach of the Year and the 2016-2017 NCC Boys Coach of the Year, departs Kokomo with a 90-31 record – his 90 wins are second best in Kokomo history behind Bob Hamilton (147) and his .747 winning percentage is unmatched. He posted a 66-10 (.868) record in NCC competition, finishing with seven conference titles in his 11 years. While at Kokomo, Colby coached more than three dozen All-State performers, six Indiana All-Stars and one IHSAA Mental Attitude Award recipient. In addition, Colby – who has an overall 205-98 record in 28 seasons – has been selected as the head coach of the North squad in the annual Indiana North-South All-Star Game to be held on July 13 at North Central High School.