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Longtime Dunbar football coach Glenn Johnson dies at 72

Glenn Johnson was known for his innovative tactics and his easygoing personality.

Dunbar coach Glenn Johnson in 2002 at Gately Stadium.
Dunbar coach Glenn Johnson in 2002 at Gately Stadium.
Al Podgorski / Sun-Times

Glenn Johnson, a longtime Public League football coach known for his innovative tactics and his easygoing personality, died Saturday at 72 after battling cancer.

Johnson had his greatest success at Dunbar, where his teams were 193-114 over 27 seasons, from 1989 to 2015. The Mighty Men qualified for the Illinois High School Association playoffs 19 times and earned postseason wins over such powerhouses as East St. Louis and Loyola. Johnson also coached South Shore to a pair of state playoff appearances before moving to Dunbar.

“Glenn was a great coach, a great person, a quiet person,” former Public League football coordinator Mickey Pruitt said. “He had an offense that was hard to defend. He was an offensive wiz.”

Troy McAllister spent a season as an assistant on Johnson’s staff before moving to Phillips, where he has built the Public League’s most successful program.

“When Dunbar was in their prime, their offenses were some of the best not only in the state but around the country,” McAllister said.

Dunbar football coach Glenn Johnson speaks at the podium at a signing ceremony.
Dunbar football coach Glenn Johnson at a signing ceremony.
Sun-Times files

Mighty Men running back Rocky Harvey, who later played at Illinois, left high school as the state’s career rushing leader, with 7,348 yards from 1995 to 1997 (fifth all-time).

Johnson’s personality was as memorable as his offensive schemes.

“He was the king of the one-liners,” McAllister said. “He’d say, ‘It’s not about the Xs and the Os; it’s about the Johnnys and the Joes.’ ”

Perspectives coach Terry Jones appreciated his friendly rivalry with Johnson and also noted his influence on the next generation.

“Glenn did so much to inspire so many young coaches,” Jones said.