Thursday, May 1, 2008

A coach (or two) to look up to

Football at Evanston High School the past couple years has been fun to watch, and I’m sure it’s been fun for the Red Devil players and coaches as well.

I’m going to make a wager that the coming fall campaigns at Red Devil Stadium will be equally as exciting.

Don Dinnel came to Evanston – by way of Mountain View and Rawlins – a few years back and transformed the Devil gridiron program. Dinnel took an EHS program that had not won a game in two seasons to a Wyoming Class 5A powerhouse that advanced to the state championship game last fall.

After 31 seasons of coaching high school football, Coach Dinnel decided to retire from coaching. His final season will be long remembered around these parts. The Devils went 6-2 during the 2007 regular season, then beat Casper Kelly Walsh and Rock Springs in the playoffs to advance to the 5A title game. EHS lost to host Cheyenne East in the championship final last November.

Dinnel’s replacement was named last week. We introduced Scott Robinson in the Tuesday, April 22, Herald Sports section and in a story here on the Herald web site.

I had the distinct honor of covering the Devils the past two football seasons. And the distinct honor of working with a true class act, a gentleman, and a great coach in Mr. Dinnel.

Coach made my job here so much easier. He always had great things to say about his team, win or lose. I witnessed the passion he had for his job, the passion he had for the task of molding our outstanding young men into a great football team. He allowed me, as a sports writer, pretty much unlimited access to his team. I always felt welcome at EHS practices and on the sidelines during games. I truly made a dear friend, and gained a friendship that will last forever.

I think that same relationship will be kindled with the new Devils’ head coach. I chatted with Coach Dinnel at the high school earlier this week. He seemed impressed with Scott Robinson, as the old and new EHS head coaches had a chance to get acquainted when Robinson was in Evanston last Monday.

I connected with Mr. Robinson Saturday evening (April 19). We talked for more than 30 minutes via telephone, as he detailed his history and other data that went into last Tuesday’s story. Note: Scott was born in Star Valley, where his father, John, started the wrestling program. He played high school sports at Soda Springs, Idaho, with dad as his coach. He wrestled and played football at Ricks College in Idaho, then later at BYU (we won’t hold that against him too much). He's coached in Wyoming (head wrestling coach at Jackson in the late 1980s), Idaho, Utah and Arizona.

I knew he was coming to town Monday, April 21, so I asked if it would be possible to meet with him to get a photo. He agreed to come down to the Herald office Sunday evening when he and his family arrived on their long trip from Arizona. Note: Scott, his wife Shirley, and their youngest daughter, Rose, left their current home in Snowflake, Ariz. (about 90 minutes east of Flagstaff) at 3 a.m. Sunday and arrived in Evanston late Sunday afternoon.

We chatted a bit more, while waiting for his oldest daughter, Topaz, and her husband and kids, to arrive from their home in Soda Springs, Idaho. Mom and daughters caught up Sunday evening while I took the crash course, Scott Robinson Football 101.

I almost failed to mention – Mr. Robinson won’t be hard to pick out in a crowd. He must stand at least 6-3, and, without divulging his weight, we’ll just say he’s a very big man. Note: I can’t wait to see him on the sidelines discussing politics, global warming, etc., with the game officials. He’s a big man who wrestled at 98 pounds as a freshman at Soda Springs a few years back.

While we were discussing his offensive philosophy, he asked for paper and pen. I learned the basic intricacies of the Robinson-style shotgun offense. That offense will feature short passing and power running, part West Coast, part old single wing, and, I believe, 100 percent fun for the EHS players and fans.

His defensive philosophy is definitely full attack mode, and that should mean an all-out blitz on every EHS opponent next fall. And more fun for Devil players and fans.

I think the Robinsons were here well over an hour Sunday. Scott talked football, and I got enthused thinking about all the possibilities for the Red Devil gridiron edition next fall. Note: can Hazen D. have an even better year catching the football than he did in ’07?

Scott talked with several of his new players when he was in town Monday. From what I heard in person, those guys are also enthusiastic about their new coach.

Scott said even though he was born in Star Valley, there will be no soft spot in his heart for the Braves when they square off against his Devils on the gridiron. Note: That should help make an historical rivalry even better.

We won’t forget Coach Dinnel and all he did for the football program. These past few years of Red Devil football under Dinnel have been fantastic. But I think EHS football fans are also going to enjoy the coming years with Scott Robinson.

I can’t wait for everyone else in town to have a chance to get to know Coach Robinson and his family when they make the move to Evanston in early June. I think you will also be impressed.

Note: is football season here yet? It feels like it!
Uinta County Herald, WY

No comments: