‘A father to us, a big brother to us’: Elyria football team to honor coach killed in apartment fire

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ELYRIA, Ohio (WJW) – Plans are underway to honor a young and talented Elyria High School football coach who died tragically in an accidental apartment fire early Tuesday morning.

De’Van Bogard had only been with the Pioneers for a couple of years, but was well liked by the players, coaches and in the community. 

“When we heard the news, we just sort of fell apart,” said EHS varsity head coach Devlin Culliver. “They loved Coach Bogard and I loved him, and all the coaches loved him. He was sort of our backbone.”

The team cancelled all practices Tuesday after learning the news, but returned to the field Wednesday night because they said that’s what Coach Bogard would want them to do.

“He’d be saying we’ve got to keep pushing. He’d want us to keep going,” said linebacker Isaiah Johnson.

Players say the 27-year-old assistant linebackers coach, who played for OSU, was much more than a physical trainer and coach.

“Way more than an average coach. A father to us, a big brother to us. I think that’s why it’s hitting us so hard,” said defensive back Andrew Palos.

Friday night, everyone attending the game is asked to wear red in honor of Coach Bogard.

His initials will also be worn on players’ helmets and the linebackers will take turns wearing his jersey number #30 each game for the rest of the season.

A large picture will also be placed near the tunnel to the field.

“Coach Bogard always led our boys on the field and so we thought it was fitting for the picture to lead them again,” said athletic booster Rachel Boddy.

They also plan to give the game ball to the coach’s surviving 5-year-old son, Jaden.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the family with funeral expenses and collection buckets will be at the stadium Friday night.

“To let them know people care,” said Boddy.

Coach Culliver said it hurts the most, not only thinking about what was lost, but what could’ve been.

“Just the fact he’s not going to get a chance to be a head coach or father, that’s what’s bothering me. If I could rewind, I would want to see him be a head coach and be a dad,” said Culliver.  

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