Brown, Gwinn football coach, dies at 37

GWINN — Gwinn High School varsity football coach Dion Brown died unexpectedly on Wednesday night.

The cause of Brown’s death was not announced as of Thursday night. Funeral arrangements are pending.

A statement from the school district said Brown was “big in heart, big in spirit and big on the field.”

Gwinn canceled its boys basketball games against Ishpeming on Thursday. The school arranged grief counselors on Thursday for students, teachers and staff.

Brown, 37, became the Modeltowners head coach in 2014. In 2016, Brown helped Gwinn to its first playoff appearance in 17 years, earning him the UP Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association award as the Large School Coach of the Year.

He finished with a 20-36 overall record as head coach of the Modeltowners.

Brown, a Bloomington (Illinois) High School graduate, set a school record with 1,992 rushing yards in 11 games in 2000, scoring 23 touchdowns. He played for Harper Junior College and Northern Michigan University. He then played for the Bloomington Extreme indoor football team.

Brown often remained positive after losses, especially after a key mistakes doomed his team in a 28-24 loss at Houghton on Sept. 27.

“Miscommunication and young guys — stuff that we practiced all week,” Brown told The Daily Mining Gazette. “They know you gotta take the guy when he goes deep — no motion — we’ll get better. Just practice, practice. Everybody been coming here, coming to practice. We’re still a young football team. “At the end of the day, we just gotta keep battling out, battling out. We knew these guys weren’t going to quit. Just gotta fix our mistakes. We’ll be all right.”