Famed University of Texas head football coach Darrell Royal once said: “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”
Given Bayfield High School’s track record under boss Gary Heide, luck has seldom factored into the Wolverines’ success, considering players’ talent as well as their response to a coaching staff seemingly hemorrhaging knowledge and tactics.
And in the wake of multiple assistants’ departures following the 2018 season, a new wave of brainpower will join the eighth-year skipper on the Wolverines’ sideline this fall as the program endeavors to remain atop the 2A Intermountain League, with the youngest incoming aide none other than former wide receiver/defensive back and 2015 alumnus Colter McMenimen.
Named in April to the 2019 National Football Foundation Hampshire Honor Society – made up of players from all collegiate divisions (a record 1,643 players, representing 424 institutions, qualified for membership this year) with each individual maintaining a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.2 throughout their careers – McMenimen left Mount Vernon, Iowa, and Cornell College a month later with kinesiology (physical education emphasis) degree in hand. Now, he will coach special teams for Bayfield High football.
“I’m ecstatic to be back at Bayfield. I had an opportunity to where I probably could have stayed in Iowa, coached and taught there, but I wanted to come back home,” he said. “And to do special teams, I don’t think there’s a lot of football coaches that really love special teams, you know? When I was playing at Cornell, special teams, I had so much fun with it. And to be able to take some of that, bring it back here as special teams coordinator, I’m really excited for that.”
As a 6-foot-1, 175-pound senior defensive back, McMenimen logged a reported 50 total tackles to rank 44th in the entire NCAA Division III Midwest Conference in 2018. He also recovered two fumbles, as the Rams finished 5-5 overall, 2-3 in the circuit’s South Division. He also was a three-time Academic All-MWC pick as well as CC’s Team Scholar Athlete in 2017.
And while in Iowa, McMenimen took a walk in father Todd’s shoes as a wrestling coach at Anamosa High School, one county east from Mount Vernon’s location.
“My roommate for three-and-a-half years, we ended up taking over the program out there and taught for a couple years,” said McMenimen, who will turn 23 on Aug. 19. “And that was actually pretty interesting; when I was talking to the kids I always said, ‘Alamosa’ since I was still so used to being around here. That was a great experience, though; I loved doing that.”
Defensive coordinatorAlso bringing experience from a collegiate career will be defensive coordinator Scott Schaefer, 43. A 1995 graduate of Pomona High in Arvada, Schaefer went on to play at Fort Lewis College from 1995-98 and earned Honorable Mention All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference nods at linebacker his last two seasons.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I mean, the growth that some of these players have had within the last year is incredible. And the maturity, the growth, I’m so excited for these guys this year. I think the product we’ll put on the field, it’ll be fun to watch.”
Addressing a sizable elephant in the room, the question of longtime defensive coordinator Mike Wnorowski’s role in 2019, Schaefer indicated his own job will involve co-op’ing efforts with the man.
“To kind of lighten the load on Mike a little,” said Schaefer, “between him and I, we’re going to DC this season together. After the (2018) season, we had a meeting, and Mike still wants to be a big part of it, which he is.”
Receivers/defensive backsDirecting BHS’ receivers and defensive backs will be Kevin Wold, 41. A 1996 graduate of Grand Junction Central, Wold did not play college football but, while studying at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver, found himself gravitating back to the gridiron with the semipro Colorado Wildcats.
“Then I played for the Grand Junction Outlaws, and that morphed into the Grand Junction Scorpions,” Wold recalled. “I have coached in the Grand Junction area at multiple levels, from middle school clear up to semipro and have been a head coach, been a coordinator, been a volunteer,” he continued. “Special teams coach, DBs coach, wide receivers coach at all those different levels. And I just had the opportunity to jump in when I got the opportunity to talk to Coach Heide.”
Noting Bayfield’s readiness to not just run but throw offensively during the past few seasons, Wold said he’s looking forward to helping the attack retain its aerial component. Not surprising considering the man both played and coached at the semipro level in the Grand Valley with former University of Colorado and NFL wide receiver Donnie Holmes.
“It’s all going to be based on our film study and what we get to see coming from our opponents. I will say this much: we’ve got talent to make something of it, for sure,” he stated. “There’s so much talent on the team that I see, especially at the positions that I get to have the pleasure of coaching and helping with, and I am just in awe. At all grade levels, there’s a lot of opportunity and for growth.”
LineVolunteering to work with interior linemen on both sides of the ball – a la Frank Hawkins – will be Justin Ross, 41. A 1996 graduate of Durango High, the former left tackle is no stranger to La Plata County, with an estimated 15 years’ worth of middle school and youth-level coaching to his name.
He has spent the last eight years working with YAFL players and now will take his first dip into high school coaching.
“The offensive line, that’s kind of my sweet spot,” Ross said. “So, I met with Coach Heide, and he asked if I’d be willing to volunteer my time to help them lines, and I was happy to do so.
“Coach Hawkins has done a great job in the past, so I’ve got some big shoes to fill. But I’ve actually talked with him and kind of picked his brain, trying to learn from him as well, so I’m excited just to bring the knowledge that I have, some things that I’ve learned. We want to see an offensive and defensive line that’s really fundamentally sound and really aggressive, not afraid to get after it.”
HHHAll told, the Wolverines’ incoming coaching quartet seems united in their desire to help BHS remain a statewide force for years to come, working with not only leaders such as Heide and Wnorowski, but each other beginning Monday with the fall’s first practice.
“The blend of coaching with the new and the old has been really good, and I feel like it’s making our team better,” said Schaefer. “No joke about that. They’re bringing in different ideas, and they’re very easy to work with.”
“I’ve heard people say that it’s a rebuilding year,” Ross said. “That’s kind of the rumor on the street. But we’ve taken the approach that we’re not rebuilding; we’re going to win a bunch of games this year, you know? It is a younger team, but we still have some good senior leadership.”
“I tell you what, the experience between Heide and Wnorowski is out of this world. Having the opportunity to sit down and talk with them, listen to them, see how they operate. I mean, there ain’t nothing in the world that has value compared to that. Two great gentlemen with some amazing experience,” said Wold. “The rest of the staff is just phenomenal; the ideas that flow, the knowledge of the game, the commitment to the team, it’s inspiring to me.”
“It’s a totally different perspective coaching next to him than playing under him,” McMenimen said of Heide, “but he’s done a great job of helping me out and help me learn his offense so that I can help him to the best of my ability. He’s been a great mentor to me, and I know it’s going to continue that way.”