Linwood Patnode brought a state championship to the Monadnock Regional High School football program. Now, he’s hoping to bring the same success to another area school.
Patnode was officially hired as the new head coach of the Keene High School football team Monday, Athletic Director Michael Atkins said.
“He knows the area, knows the school,” Atkins said. “Certainly, he has demonstrated a level of success in the past, having kind of brought Monadnock’s football program back from where it was to where it is now.”
Patnode was an assistant coach for the Blackbirds from 2006-08, then moved up to the head coaching position at Monadnock. Coaching the Huskies from 2009-16, he led the program to its first state championship in 2012 and helped set the stage for the team’s 2018 title run. His right-hand man at the time, Ryan Avery, took his spot after he left and several of the sophomores from his last team helping to lead Monadnock to another title as seniors last fall.
Patnode said he kept away from coaching the past couple years to focus on his businesses in Winchester. He is the owner of S.U.R. Construction West and part-owner of Bob’s Fuel Company.
But the call of the gridiron was ultimately too great to resist, he said.
“I didn’t know if I would be coaching again after getting done at Monadnock,” Patnode said. “I had on a whim applied to Keene High two years ago, and had to pull out of the balloting because of my businesses, but I just decided after a couple of years off, I guess I got hungry for the sport again and being around the kids again.”
Patnode takes over for Bill Hope. In two seasons under Hope — a longtime social studies teacher and former captain of the school’s football team –—the Blackbirds went 1-18, with their only win coming in their 2018 opener against Manchester Memorial, a team that has gone winless in each of the past four seasons. Keene High made the official decision not to renew his contract on Sunday, according to Atkins.
Atkins said he expects Hope to continue his other athletics job as the assistant coach of the wrestling team, and even encouraged him to stay on with the football program under Patnode.
“There’s a huge level of respect for Coach Hope,” Atkins said. “I admire the guy, I admire what he stands for. His priority is Keene High School, his priority is the students of Keene High School, his priorities were in the right place. We just felt it was time for a different direction.”
Based on the last two years, the Blackbirds are a ways from contending and Patnode has yet to meet the players, but his main goal is the same. “My goal every year is to make the playoffs,” Patnode said. “Ultimately, what we’re trying to do is to win championships, and you can’t do that unless you get into the playoffs, so that is the goal every single year.
“Over at Monadnock, it seemed like we were always in the playoffs, and that became a habit, so I’d like that to become a habit here.”