Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file photo
When Gary Heide was elected president of the Bayfield High School football program last summer, he immediately reappointed the cabinet from the previous administration.
Next to his move to Bayfield, Heide said that was the best decision he’s made as the head coach of the unbeaten Wolverines – 10-0 and poised to host Faith Christian (8-2) in a Class 2A state quarterfinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Wolverine Country Stadium.
“What impressed me was their dedication to football, their knowledge of football,” Heide said of the Bayfield assistant coaches who carried over from previous playoff seasons.
“The incredible expertise ... combined with them knowing the kids from before. They really get along with the kids,” Heide said.
The communication among assistant coaches and players made the head coach’s transition seamless and smooth.
Heide, who took over for former head coach Marshall Hahn, promoted Shawn Tucker from undersecretary to secretary of defense, taking over for retired defensive coordinator Herb Stinson.
“Shawn Tucker has taken his style of defense and honed it week by week,” said Heide, who credited the ever-reliable Bayfield defense in last weekend’s come-from-behind 21-12 state playoff victory over Trinidad. The Wolverines forced two fourth-quarter fumbles that led to BHS touchdowns.
The Wolverines posted three shutouts this season, with two other games where they allowed only 7 points.
“And Todd McMenimen and Bob Bynum have been an integral part of the triple option here,” Heide said of the offensive coaches behind the Wolverines’ prolific triple-option offense, which Heide also carried over from the previous administration.
“There’s Jimmy Cundiff. He’s the first guy there every day,” said Heide, who added more kind words for assistants Paul Pate and Mike Snooks.
“They are all great position coaches. They do a fantastic job,” Heide said. “I can’t say enough about them accepting the change in head coaches and the transition here.”
The players, Heide said, see the investment the coaches are making in the program, too.
“They (players) respond to that,” Heide said.
The playoff experience of his coaching staff is invaluable. Bayfield’s assistants have prepared for and coached in 10 playoff games since 2008 – that’s an entire season of playoff matchups.
Most were in place three years ago when Bayfield lost a second-round playoff game on Faith Christian’s home field in Arvada. These Wolverines likely will see a similar Faith Christian team Saturday – a team built on athleticism, discipline and execution, according to Heide.
“They have a strong coaching staff who’s been there a long time,” Heide said of veteran coach Blair Hubbard and his assistants.
Faith Christian beat Bennett 17-10 in last week’s opening round.
“They are super-well-coached; smart with discipline. And they have a number of really good athletes,” Heide said of the Arvada-based private school – a perennial playoff team. Faith Christian, after beating Bayfield in 2008, went on to an unbeaten season and the state championship.
“Their experienced coaches will prepare them for this road trip,” Heide said of Faith Christian, which doesn’t travel far in league games. But the Eagles have made long playoff trips in recent years to places such as Aspen, Brush and Pagosa Springs.
Faith Christian also has made recent postseason volleyball trips to Bayfield, generally with a large number of fans and parents in tow.
“Field position in the playoffs, you’ve got to take advantage of field position,” Heide said, “especially with weather coming in.”
He said ball security will be paramount in the playoff game against an experienced, seasoned team.
“Extra diligence in ballhandling will be critical,” he said.
The kicking game could be a vital component Saturday – particularly with cold, wet weather in the forecast.
“Special teams are huge (in postseason),” Heide said.
The Wolverines, winners of 10 games in a row, will take on a Faith Christian team that has seven consecutive victories. Faith Christian lost 27-24 to Holy Family in Week 1 and 21-3 to No. 1-ranked Kent Denver in Week 3. Otherwise, Faith Christian rolled to four shutouts, including four mercy-rule games.
All-state junior Seth VonRentzell leads the Faith Christian defense. He’s averaging 10 tackles a game. He’s supported by Gunnar Caldwell and Barton Taylor on defense.
The versatile Deven Tyler leads the Faith Christian offense. He’s averaging more than 9 yards per carry. And he’s scored eight touchdowns this year.
Stalder Derek does everything, according to Heide.
“They really have no weaknesses,” Heide said.
But, they will have to play at Wolverine Country Stadium where the Bayfield football team is unbeaten over the last two seasons.
“You know, this doesn’t get any more exciting,” Heide said this week.
“I know how fortunate I am to be in this position,” Heide said. “This is such a great situation for me and for my family, it’s easy to give it everything I’ve got.”
Another victory, and Heide’s Wolverines will play either Eaton or Platte Valley in the 2A semifinals.
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo
Steve Lewis/Durango Herald file photo