HELENA — Capital High football coach Kyle Mihelish didn't hesitate when endorsing the expertise of his new offensive line coach Jim Hogan.
Hogan, who spent the majority of his time as the Carroll College Saints' offensive line coach during his 19-year tenure as an assistant football coach under then-coach Mike Van Diest, is now the newest member of the Bruins football staff and brings 37 years of coaching experience to Capital.
"I've always thought Jim Hogan is the best offensive line coach in the state of Montana," Mihelish said. "He is the best coach at the high school level or college, and his knowledge, passion and what he is going to bring to me, our staff and our program is going to be invaluable."
Hogan, who will fill the coaching vacancy left by former Bruins assistant Tom Kain, desired to coach again after taking a year sabbatical from the collegiate ranks in 2018.
Helena School District Activities Administrator Tim McMahon said Hogan's wealth of experience in football was one of the main reasons they chose him for the position.
"To get someone as a high school assistant to come in with that kind of background is a benefit to our program," McMahon said. "He's seen all of the changes (in football). Coach Mihelish wanted to bring in an assistant that was qualified and capable of hitting the ground running on day one, and that is clearly what (Mihelish) got. He was just a good fit for us."
Hogan chose to get back into coaching the high school ranks after 19 seasons with the Saints and a year off to spend more time with his family.
This gave him an opportunity to watch his daughter Brittany Hogan, who played softball at Carroll, during her senior season, and spend time with his wife Barb, a math teacher at Helena High, and sons Anthony, Adam and James.
"I thought it was time to get back to my family," Hogan said. "When you coach in college, you miss out on a lot of events such as state championship football games, birthday parties and my daughter finishing up her senior season at Carroll. I got to watch her and support her through her senior season."
A wealth of experience
Hogan, who played outside linebacker at the University of Montana, went into coaching as an assistant coach at Solano Junior College in Fairfield, California, before moving back to Montana in the fall of 1982 to be an assistant football coach at Broadus. He also served as the head wrestling and assistant track coach.
After a two-year stint with the Hawks, Hogan then became a graduate assistant under former Griz football coach Larry Donovan and served as a linebackers coach for two years before moving to Gillette, Wyoming, under former UM coach Mick Dennehy. Hogan also helped the track team win a state track title as an assistant in Gillette.
He then followed Dennehy, who got a head coaching job at the University of Montana Western and was a defensive coordinator from 1988-1991, before taking a job at Billings Central from 1991-1999.
As the Rams head football, wrestling and track coach, Hogan had several state champions, including Zach Zimmer, who wrestled at Stanford and was a three-time MHSA Class A state champion in the 120-, 125- and 130-pound weight classes. He also coached Parker Aldrich, who was a two-time MHSA state champion at 189 pounds.
Hogan coached two MHSA state girls track champions and one boys state title-winning squad in 1999. His boys track team still holds the record in the mile relay, recording a time of 3 minutes, 21 seconds. He moved to Carroll in the fall of 1999, where he coached the defensive line his first year and proceeded to coach the offensive line until 2018.
The level of coaching experience Hogan brings should help prospective Capital players who aspire to play at the collegiate level with background on what they need to do to get there, according to McMahon.
"Hogan will help kids understand the process of what it takes to make their goals of playing at the next level happen," McMahon said. "He understands what coaches (at the college level) are looking for and what you have to do to get your name out there."
McMahon also said Hogan's character is a tremendous asset to Capital.
"When I did a background check, everyone talked to me about the man way before they talked to me about the coach he is," McMahon said. "He is just a quality person, and the most important thing is that everyone spoke highly first and foremost about the man he is."