Archived Story

Reaction: Thomas not surprised by Dock retirement

Published 12:22pm Monday, December 9, 2013

Little did Denny Dock and Bernard Thomas know that when they met in 1974, their lives would be linked forever.

Thomas was a sophomore defensive lineman at Western Michigan University. Dock was a freshman quarterback. It was a tumultuous time when it came to race relations, but the two made it work and became fast friends.

After they left Western, Dock would find his way to Dowagiac as a teacher and an assistant football coach, just a few miles away from Thomas’ hometown of Vandalia.

Eventually, Dock would ascend to the head coaching position at Dowagiac. A year after becoming the Chieftains’ head coach, Dock hired Thomas to be an assistant.

“One of the first guys I got to hire at Dowagiac was Bernard, my old college roommate,” Dock said during his retirement press conference Friday at Lakeshore High School. “I was the scout team quarterback (at WMU) and I had to run from Bernard.”

After working together for two year, Dock left Dowagiac to take over the Lakeshore program and Thomas was hired as his replacement.

With the teacher on one side and the pupil on the other, it only heated up an already intense rilvary.

“When I left to come here, then the battle was one,” Dock said. “But Bernard and I remain as good of friends today. What a thrill that was.”


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