What a tremendous, fun experience that was. Just to be able to coach your son and win a state title. It was awesome. —Roger DuPaix
HOLLADAY — It was a blown play in an emotional football game that epitomized the kind of coach Roger DuPaix was going to be.
DuPaix was coaching in his first game against Highland since he'd left the Rams to lead the Skyline Eagles in 1986. Obviously, it meant a lot to the coach to do well against his former school.
But when one of the team's halfbacks missed a block, which resulted in the ball carrier being tackled near the sideline where DuPaix stood, the reaction was not exactly what one would expect from a man who loves football as much as Roger DuPaix does.
"The kid was tackled for a 5-yard loss, right at Roger's feet," said his assistant for the last 26 years and Skyline's athletic director Steve Marlowe. "Roger helped him up and said, 'You know, son, if you don't block better than that, we don't have a very good chance of winning this game.' That was typical Roger. He wasn't just concerned about winning. He was always about building a kid up, giving him confidence and character development. And I've always appreciated that."
After more than four decades on the sideline, Utah's winningest high school football coach is trading in his whistle for a suit and tie. Instead of teaching young men how to run an option, he'll be teaching people about something he loves even more than football — his religion.
DuPaix and his wife, Edie, announced this weekend that he is retiring from coaching and teaching at Skyline. The Holladay couple is going to apply to be missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
They hope to put their paperwork in next week and be serving "anywhere they need us" sometime this summer.
Marlowe will take over the head coaching duties at Skyline. While he once thought he aspired to be a head coach himself, his chemistry with DuPaix and what they accomplished was satisfying enough for nearly three decades.
"As soon as he resigned, something inside of me said, 'Make sure these kids are taken care of,'" said Marlowe. "I just want to keep things going. I also wanted to prove to myself I could do it. I'm really excited, just chomping at the bit."
In losing DuPaix, the state loses one of its most accomplished coaches in high school football. In addition to his eight state titles, DuPaix earned 301 wins, something no other Utah football coach has achieved. He also leaves with a 67-25 playoff record, which means he's won more playoff games than any other head coach has even appeared in.
DuPaix described making the decision to quit coaching akin to "ripping my heart out."
"It was so hard just to let go this year," he said. "I feel like part of me is going to be gone … Edie said, 'I'm really going to miss you being a coach.'"
While the life of a high school football coach can be stressful and demanding, both Edie and Roger DuPaix said they feel blessed beyond description because of the people they've met and loved throughout four decades of coaching.
Both said their favorite memory is the season in which DuPaix won his first state title at Skyline with his son, Joe DuPaix, now a BYU assistant coach, playing quarterback.
"What a tremendous, fun experience that was," he said. "Just to be able to coach your son and win a state title. It was awesome."
The couple's life has revolved around football for so long, neither of them knows just how they'll fare when autumn rolls around again.
"I don't know what we're going to do with our Friday nights," said Edie, who is as emotional about her husband's retirement as he is. "From the time that we were engaged, I was going to his football games."
Edie said she's not sure her husband would be retiring if he didn't have a desire to serve a mission. The couple discussed serving a mission when they were newlyweds and felt the time was right with all of their 10 children married or in college.
"I think it would be really hard to leave and not have something to go to," said Edie. "The mission is the only thing more wonderful that we could think of doing with our lives."