Millard South's Blake Jackson

Millard South's Blake Jackson, left, and Omaha Bryan's Ladamien Sturdivant wrestle in the Class A 106-pound final.

Coming soon to a bike shop near you: one of the state’s best wrestling coaches of all time.

Doug Denson is about to give new meaning to riding off into the sunset.

The veteran coach led Millard South to its third straight Class A team title Saturday, the seventh of his career.

He’ll step down after next weekend’s state dual tournament, the final event in his 24 years with the Patriots, and retire from teaching at the end of the school year.

Denson, holding the newest addition to Millard South’s trophy case, said he feels good about the state of the program as he steps away.

“Our program is not Doug Denson concentric,” he said. “It’s really the sum total of a lot of pieces. I’m just one of the pieces. And I’m replaceable.”

He’ll still help with the Patriots’ club programs and in any other way he can to help keep the ship steered straight.

But his days will be spent managing a bike shop where he has worked part time during summers.

“A lot less pressure,” he joked. “It’s a lot easier than teaching English, let me tell you that right now.”

All seven Millard South team titles have come since 2005. There was a runner-up finish by a half-point in 2014, too. Sons Aaron and Morgan each won a pair of state golds with him in the corner, part of 31 over the last 15 years.

He takes a little pride in all of them.

“Helping them on their way, to be able to achieve their dreams, that’s kind of all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Denson said. “Whether you win one championship, no championships, if you’ve helped kids become better people and you’ve done something for them in their life, that’s priceless.”

Longtime assistant Jay Meneely said Denson’s strengths come out in the running of a program like Millard South’s.

Kids need rides to practice. Mats need rolled up after meets. Strong male role models are required at times.

Denson has a man for every job.

“Doug is very, very good at understanding what gifts people have and putting those people in the right place to do the right things,” Meneely said. “And he’s run the program that way for the 15 years I’ve been up at the high school with him.”

The two came together when Meneely drafted one of Denson’s kids for his youth football team. Soon Denson was the team’s offensive coordinator.

“And a pretty good one,” Meneely said. “That’s Doug’s strength, though. He’s great at understanding matchups and so forth.”

Denson pestered Meneely for years to join him with the Millard South program. Meneely always told him he’d think about it after his son Todd finished his career at Omaha Skutt.

Meneely laughed Saturday remembering when he finally gave in, at the 2002 state tournament.

“Todd came off the podium, I walked out and there was Doug with a piece of paper that was a fake contract, asking me if I was ready,” Meneely said. “We’ve been together ever since.”

Said Denson: “It’s been an amazing run.”

Meneely — the “technician,” according to Denson — will continue as an assistant with the Patriots. Both he and Denson say they hope the next head coach is one from the Millard South tree.

“We all hope it’s going to be someone within the family,” Denson said, “because they understand how our program works.”

He thought back Saturday on the early days of his coaching career, times he spent wondering if he’d ever win a state championship, let alone seven.

“So when we won the first one,” Denson said about Millard South’s 2005 title, “I thought I might have died and gone to heaven. Could have retired then.”

For the sake of wrestling in the state of Nebraska, it’s a good thing he didn’t.

Enjoy the next ride, coach. Watch out for potholes.