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Former football Trojan Hodgen has success as Madison coach
December 12, 2012
MADISON, S.D. – "He didn't look like it, but he could do it all," said DSU head football coach Josh Anderson. "Max Hodgen is one (if not) the best linebackers I ever played with."
"I really wasn't heavy at all," admitted Hodgen. "At the end of my senior season, we played in the Dakota Classic in the DakotaDome in Vermillion. I came into the locker room at the end of the game and I weighed just 165 pounds!"
Recently, Hodgen completed his third season as Madison's head football coach. He guided the Bulldogs to their first plus-.500 in the past few years, leading them to a 5-4 record and into the playoffs.
Back in the day, Hodgen completed his senior 1995 campaign as a three-time All-South Dakota-Iowa Conference (SDIC) and NAIA All-American.
"He was, and still is, a super smart guy, not only on the field, but in the classroom, too," said Anderson.
For the major part of the school year at Madison, you can find Hodgen in his classroom teaching both physics and math.
"Max has done a great job coaching the Bulldogs," said Brad Benson, a former Trojan who played with Hodgen and has been the Chester Area Flyers' football coach for the past many years. "I can only say that Max wasn't just a great football player, but he's been an even better coach."
Benson added, "The tandem of Max and Bryan Ledgerwood were pretty much unstoppable."
"Max and I have been lifelong friends," smiled Ledgerwood. "In face, we had been teammates in football since the fourth grade."
Both Papillion, Nebraska, natives and LaVista High School graduates came to DSU after a successful high school career at LaVista under the coaching of Gene Suhr. Suhr led his Monarchs to a state title in their class while Hodgen and Ledgerwood played there. At LaVista, Hodgen gained All-Metro honors his senior year.
"We were competitive already before coming to Madison," said Hodgen. "We were eager to fight for jobs at Dakota State."
"It seemed as if we had different defensive coordinators almost every year at DSU, but a lot of our defensive philosophy came from John Cosgrove when he was here in 1993 when we were 8-2. He was very influential to me. He knew a lot about those X's and O's, and a lot of my defensive philosophy today comes from him."
"Cosgrove had the excellent ability to make players a cohesive team. He was very astute when it came to football, and he was a master when it came to the educational part of the game," added Ledgerwood, who is now the director of operations at Viterra Foods in South Sioux City, Neb.
With a teaching degree in his hands, Hodgen became Parker's defensive coordinator in 1999, and in 2002, he became the Pheasants' head coach. In his two years as head coach, Parker went 15-4.
He then returned to Madison in 2004 to teach and coach for Tom Milne. During that time, he married Suzy Collignon, the daughter of DSU Hall of Famers John and Linda Collignon.
Suzy is employed both at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls and does regional health care work at Marshall, Minn., so to be closer to each other, Hodgen took on the head coaching duties at Lennox for a year, coaching the Orioles to a 2-6 season.
After that season, though, Hodgen came back to Madison to become Milne's defensive coordinator. Three seasons ago, he took over the program after Milne stepped down as the Bulldogs' head coach. He is now one of Hodgen's assistant coaches.
"I really enjoy coaching --- even though I've had some tough times," concluded Hodgen. "In those tough times, you have to get up, dust yourself off and go at it again. That's because I really enjoy dealing with student-athletes as a coach.
Dan Holsworth, Dakota State University Athletics Assistant
Edited by Nick Huntimer, Dakota State University Sports Information Director