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Dave McKenna `88 stepping down as head football coach

Dave McKenna

Photo credit Brendan Vaillancourt `26

The Spokesman-Review
Longtime Gonzaga Prep football head coach Dave McKenna `88 announced he is stepping down after 16 seasons at the helm of a program known for a tradition of excellence.

He told his players in a team meeting in the Chapel of the Three Companions on Wednesday. “I thanked them, and told them I was so grateful for them and for the opportunity to coach. It’s been a great journey.”

The winningest active coach in the GSL brought the 4A title home to Prep in 2015 for the first time since 1986, when he was backup quarterback for that championship team. His teams amassed a record of 136-37, 8 GSL titles, and earned numerous appearances at state. Twice, his teams were academic state champs. He was named GSL coach of the year 6 times, and Washington state high school coach of the year in 2015, the championship year.

But more than the wins and accolades, McKenna leaves a legacy of leadership, service, respect, and excellence on and off the field. Through the years, McKenna and the coaches in the program have worked to instill values of teamwork, discipline, and perseverance in players, shaping not only their athletic abilities but also their character.
Beneath the tough coach persona, McKenna cares deeply about each student-athlete. As a classroom teacher and member of campus ministry, he has had the opportunity to witness and impact every aspect of his players' growth.

"In the end, it's all about relationships—players, colleagues, parents." He said. "I’ve been blessed to be part of this community." 

Nearly one thousand Bullpups have played for McKenna’s teams, and numerous student-athletes went on to play at the collegiate level. A handful have played for the NFL.
McKenna has been part of Bullpup football since returning to the school as a volunteer assistant in 1990. He earned his coaching bona fides from the best: first under legendary coach Don Anderson and then Dave Carson, whom he succeeded in 2008. He is just the fifth coach in 95 years of Bullpup football.

The Gonzaga Prep administration, faculty, students, and the entire community extend their gratitude to Coach McKenna for his years of leadership.

“I have worked and coached with Dave and I have witnessed the profound impact he has had on young adults,” said Principal Derek Duchesne. “For him, it was always about the growth of his players and trainers as competent and compassionate adults.”

President Michael Dougherty added, “We play football because of the opportunities that it gives us to teach our mission in life-changing and unforgettable ways. As coach for 16 seasons, Dave McKenna has taught what it means to be a person who is for and with others. He has modeled the heart of Prep’s mission in powerful ways and has had a profound impact on the lives of our students, alumni, families, and community.”

McKenna is a Bullpup through and through. He will continue in his role as dean of students and varsity golf coach. The search for a new head football coach will begin in the coming weeks.
By the numbers
Overall record: 136-37
GSL titles: 8
GSL Coach of the Year: 2012, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021, 2023
WA state high school coach of the year: 2015

Bullpup head football coaches
Dave McKenna 2008-2023 (136-37)
Dave Carson 1998-2007 (70-36)
Don Anderson 1973-1996 (195-53-3)
Bill Frazier 1939-1972 (203-79-13)
John Puggy Hunton 1929-1938 (67-15)