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'Simply The Best': Legendary Mountain Lakes Football Coach Doug Wilkins Dead At 76

Legendary Mountain Lakes football coach Doug Wilkins died at 76 years old.
Legendary Mountain Lakes football coach Doug Wilkins died at 76 years old. Photo Credit: HERD Alumni Foundation Facebook

Legendary Mountain Lakes football coach Douglas Clare Wilkins died Monday, June 3 at his home in Denville. He was 76 years old.

Wilkins started as the social studies teacher at the school before assuming the role of vice principal. 

He coached the football team between 1966 and 2009, earning eight NJSIAA titles and a record of 328-105-5.

Wilkins created the acronym HERD: Hustle, enthusiasm, roughness, dedication, desire. The high school's artificial turf in 2010 was dedicated to Wilkins, the first official year of his retirement. 

The coach that same year co-founded the HERD Alumni Foundation, an organization that's raised hundreds of thousands toward scholarships and equipment.

Wilkins made an impact both on and off the field.

"Coach Wilkins did more than teach you a game, he taught you about life, about becoming the best that you can be, to be a leader, to give to others, to be a better person," John Sorensen said in a Facebook tribute. 

"For decades he has left his mark on generations of students and families, his lessons passed down to our children.

"He was like a father to many of us, a pillar of a man that you could always rely on. One of the best men I have ever known and I am so grateful for the impact he had upon my life and the memories I will cherish and pass along."

MLHS tribute

MLHS Athletics

"Coach Wilkins was one of the finest coaches and gentlemen I have ever had the privilege to coach against," Tenafly Athletics wrote on Twitter. 

"A role model to coaches and players alike."

"'This is that quest. To follow that star. No matter how hopeless. No matter how far,'"Jim Hague said.

"To hear Richard Kiley sing that song from the 'Man of LaMancha' soundtrack after Coach Wilkins put that scratchy old record on the turntable was so emotional. Rest In Peace, Coach. Simply the best."

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