Mike Golden is ready to return to the sidelines.
The longtime central Ohio football coach has overcome cancer and can’t wait to tackle the challenge of rebuilding the program at Bexley High School.
“I’m healthy again, and Bexley has an outstanding community, kids and school system,” Golden said. “I knew that if I got back into coaching, that’s a place that I would like to be.”
Golden, 63, will make his fifth stop as a head coach after previously leading the programs at Watterson (1988-2002), New Albany (2004), Upper Arlington (2005-13) and Delaware (2014-17). He has a career record of 217-98 in 29 seasons, led Watterson to the Division III state title in 2002 and was in the inaugural class of the Central District Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2017.
He resigned as Delaware’s coach to focus on his health after battling throat and lung cancer that was diagnosed in September 2016.
“I think any time you have a hall of famer who wants to be a part of your staff is a golden opportunity, pun intended,” athletics director Eli Goldberger said. “Getting to meet Mike has made it even more clear in my mind that he is the right guy for us.
“He’s such a character guy and all of the accolades he has — such as having nearly 220 wins, being in the (Central District) Hall of Fame and winning a state championship — pale in comparison to what kind of person he is. He does things the right way.”
Golden replaces Nathan Castorena, who led the program for two seasons. The Lions were 1-19 overall and 0-10 in the MSL-Ohio Division under Castorena, including 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the league last season.
“They have had success before,” Golden said. “When a place has had success before, it can have it again.”
The coach before Castorena was John Smith, who spent 10 seasons with the Lions and compiled a 58-47 record while leading Bexley to all five of its playoff appearances. The Lions made the playoffs in each of Smith’s final four seasons, including an 11-1 finish in 2016.
Bexley finished that regular season 10-0 for the first time in program history. The team also played the program’s only home playoff game, defeating Whitehall 31-21 for its only postseason victory before losing to Hamilton Township 26-20 in a Division III, Region 11 semifinal.
“I think Mike wants to build a program and put it in a position to where he can pass it on when it’s in good shape,” Goldberger said. “If that takes four or five years, that will be fine. I think he wants to stabilize the program and pass it on to somebody. That’s what excites him.”
Golden said he expects to implement what has worked for him in the past.
“I have to look at our personnel, but I have run the wing-T a lot in the past, both under center and in the (shotgun),” he said. “We will have a moving defense and if you need a name for it, it would probably be most like a 3-4.”
Golden met with his players March 28. Tommy Bloebaum, a sophomore wide receiver and defensive back, is excited about the plan laid out by his new coach.
“Coach has had a successful career, and he’s bringing some of his assistants over to help us with the transition,” said Bloebaum, who caught seven passes for 168 yards and one touchdown last fall. “I like that he’s bringing over assistants that know his system so we can just start learning things right away.”