AVON, August 4 – Glenn McLellan, a physical education teacher who coached the Avon High football team for 26 years, died on Sunday at his South Carolina home at the age of 77.
A graduate of the Gilbert School in Winsted and the University of Connecticut, McLellan coached varsity football, wrestling, baseball and track and field at Avon High.
McLellan coached football at Avon from 1966-91 and in 1994, compiling a school-record 130 victories and led the Falcon football team to four Northwest Conference championships and five North Central Connecticut Conference titles.
“We had some great games against Avon. It was classic high school football,” said former Farmington High football coach Paul Maskery who coached against McLellan from 1969 to 1982. “They were very well prepared. Glenn used (the) talent (of his boys) to the utmost.”
His 1967 football team at Avon was the first in team history to go undefeated at 8-0, including a close 7-0 win over arch-rival Farmington. The Northwest Conference title that the Falcons captured that fall was the first in the program’s history.
There were no state football playoffs at that time but Avon was awarded a CIAC Merit Award, which was presented to the top teams in each respective class. Avon won a second Merit Award in 1971 after going 7-1.
The closest that McLellan and the Falcons came to the state playoffs was in 1980 and 1983.
In 1980, the Falcons scored a school-record 345 points – a mark that stood for nearly 20 years – shared the Northwest Conference title with Woodrow Wilson of Middletown and went 9-1. Only a 10-point loss to Berlin, 16-6, spoiled the campaign. Avon finished fourth in the Class S rankings and at that time, only two teams qualified for the playoffs.
In 1983, Avon won the first nine games of the season and could have earned a spot in the Class S championship game with a win over rival Farmington in the season finale. But the Indians stunned Avon, 27-0 and the Falcons finished fourth in Class S.
Maskery said that McLellan would come up with different formations for the Farmington game. But for the most part, “he was a hard-nosed football coach,” Maskery said. “He liked three yards and a cloud of dust.” Translation? He prefered that his team run the ball. When McLellan retired, the school record for most yards passing in a single season was just 569 yards.
McLellan was the first coach of the Avon High wrestling team in 1968 and coached the squad for four years.
In his final three years with the wrestling team, McLellan went 38-2 with his 1971 team going 13-0 and winning its second straight Northwest Sectional championship. It was the first undefeated team in the program’s history. He was 44-7 in his wrestling career as a coach.
Maskery started Farmington’s wrestling program and never beat Avon in 10 years. “Glenn did an excellent job in wrestling,” Maskery said. “He had the numbers. His team had good knowledge and good technique.”
McLellan coached the Avon High baseball for several years in the mid-1970s before Marty deLiveron took over the program in 1978.
He was also the head coach of the Avon boys track and field program for four seasons from 1988-91, going 47-7 in dual meets. His 1991 squad was second in the NCCC and won a Class S state championship with a close 65-57 win over Haddam-Killingworth. Dushawne Simpson won the 200 and 400 meters and was second in the high jump. Jeff Cavanaugh won the 5,000 and Avon won the 4×100 relay.
“When I heard that Glenn had passed away, the first memories I had were not of him as the football coach but they were as of Glenn as a man,” said Brett Quinion, who played football under McLellan at Avon High and coached the Falcon football team for 10 seasons. “He was a tremendous man and a strong figure. His presence was so strong along with his moral fiber. Every conversation you had with him was meaningful.
“He trained young men to become men,” said Quinion, who graduated in 1976. “He stressed the importance of team first, integrity and character. He had a big impact on me. We need more Glenn McLellans in the world.”
McLellan came to Avon from UConn where he won three letters in football (1956, 1957 and 1958) and captured letters in baseball (1958, 1959). He played fullback with the UConn football team, which shared the Yankee Conference title in 1957 and won it outright in 1958. He was a catcher with the Huskies baseball team. He hit .200 in 10 games in 1957, the year that UConn went to the College World Series.
He graduated from Gilbert in Winsted in 1955 where he played football and baseball for the Yellowjackets. In 1954, he scored a then-school record 68 points with 10 touchdowns in six games for the Gilbert football team — a record that stood for nearly 20 years until 1972.
In 2013, he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Athletics Award from Gilbert for his excellence on the field during his days in Winsted and for distinguishing himself in the field of athletics in his professional career.
He was past president of the Northern Connecticut chapter of the National Football Foundation and Hall of Fame and received the chapter’s Contribution to Football award in 1991.
In 2004, the trophy that the Farmington and Avon High football teams played for in their traditional season-ending contest was named the Maskery/McLellan Trophy in honor of the two long-time coaches at the school. Maskery coached Farmington from 1969-82 and compiled the most wins (70) in Farmington football history.
Unfortunately, the series ended following the 2005 season because Avon moved to the Pequot Conference, which didn’t allow any non-conference contests at that time. The two schools had met annually since 1960, outside of two seasons in 1996 and 1997 when Avon played in the Pequot Conference for the first time.
McLellan is survived by his wife of 58 years, Judy, and two sons – Glenn McLellan and his wife Julie, of Riverview, Fla., and Jeff McLellan and his wife, Kelly of Canton – along with his sister, Dawn Quigley of Winsted, 11 grandchildren and three great grandsons.
Friends are invited to leave an online condolence at Brunswick Funeral Service.com.
A celebration of Glen’s life will be held Saturday, Sept. 19, at 4 p.m. at the Carmon Funeral Home and Family Center in Avon. Family will receive friends from 2-4 p.m. prior to the service at the funeral home. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be directed to the Alzheimer Association-NC, 1305 Navaho Drive, Suite 101 in Raleigh, North Carolina, 27609.