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Koenig steps down as Cardinal's leader

June 21, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

For the past 13 years there have been two constants surrounding the Canfield baseball program; the Cardinals were going to win and head coach Matt Koenig would be leading the way.

One of those two things will change in 2019. Coach Koenig resigned last week ending the best run in Canfield baseball history. He steps aside with 242 wins in his pocket, the most in school history. Walking away from such a successful reign is always challenging. Yet, all the veteran coach needed to do to make his decision an easy one was look around his house.

"The time was right," said Koenig over the phone last Wednesday night. "It was a total family decision. I have 13 and 11 year old girls and a 6-year-old boy and they all play ball. It's time to be there for them. Everyone supported my decision."

Included in that "everyone" was Canfield Athletic Director Greg Cooper. The A.D. noted his baseball team's 2007 state championship, one regional championship, three regional runners up, two regional semifinal appearances and seven conference championships as amazing accomplishments in Coach Koenig's career.

"It's incredible," said Cooper in a press release. "On behalf of the Canfield Athletic Department thank you for all the work and many hundreds of hours you devoted to our baseball program."

Another admirer of the job that Koenig did for over a decade was the Cardinals' counterparts in the ladies' locker room.

"We'd like to give a tip of the hat to Coach Koenig on an outstanding career as skipper of Canfield High School baseball," posted the Canfield softball team on Twitter.

This past season the Cardinals had another long run in the state tournament making it to the regional finals before bowing out to Tallmadge for the second straight season. Koenig's kids ended the regular season as part of a three-way tie for the All American Conference Red Tier title. Overall, Canfield was 18-7 this year. One downer for the incoming administration is that the Cardinals will be losing 14 seniors off this year's ultra successful squad. Still, with the return of AAC co Player of the Year Dom Pilolli as well as important contributors such as Ricky Havrilla, Jad Jadallah and Chance Merlin, there is still plenty of talent on Canfield's campus.

"We left the program in great shape for whoever takes over," Koenig said.

When discussing the 242 wins that pushed him to the top of Canfield's coaching list, Koenig laughed. He actually didn't even know he had broken the record until he was filling out some state paperwork for the tournament.

"I didn't realize I was the winningest coach until the districts," Koenig said. "I didn't tell anybody because I didn't want to take any attention away from the kids. Then we won our 800th game (as a program) versus Chardon so it was a huge milestone week for us."

It actually was a milestone tenure for Coach Koenig at Canfield. Certainly, the winning culture will remain, but replacing the total package he brought to Canfield 13 seasons ago will be difficult. When he announced his resignation to the school the excellent coach wanted to make sure he expressed how much he loved molding the lives of his Cardinal family.

"Thank you very much for the opportunity to lead such a great program and I hope that the traditions that we have continue in the future as well as new ideas that will come with new leadership," said Koenig in a letter to the administration. "Again thank you for the opportunity to lead the Cardinals for more than a decade."



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