When you look at the top of Wyoming’s all-time coaching victories list, something sticks out right away: The “Ds” have it.
Dayton, Deti and Deti are 1-2-3 in Wyoming’s coaching victories list — Cokeville’s Todd Dayton leads with 253; Laramie’s John Deti Sr. is second at 205 and his son, John Deti Jr., is third at 188.
But what about the other letters? Where are the Rs, the Js, the Ns, the Zs?
This blog post answers that question.
Below, I have listed the coaches who have the most victories by the first letter of their last name. These totals are for the 1930-2010 seasons — the ones I currently have posted online — but I am quite confident that most of these records stand up through about 1921.
This is a smaller takeoff of a larger coaching records database that, for now, I have kept to myself. I hope to post it online sometime soon; when I do, I will post something here to let you know.
Without further ado, here are the leaders per letter, with the career record in parenthesis and the runner-up listed second:
A: John Alberta (68-19-1). Alberta was the coach at Gillette from 1961-70 — one of the best stretches in the Camels’ history. His teams never lost more than three games in a season and always won at least six. His best season was an unbeaten 9-0 campaign in 1964. (Second place: Glen Alley, 65-20-1 at Glenrock from 1956-65.)
B: Okie Blanchard (141-48-5). Blanchard was one of the state’s most respected — and most traveled — coaches in Wyoming’s early days. Blanchard coached in Glenrock, Cokeville, Rock Springs, Natrona and Cheyenne Central and was even the head coach at the University of Wyoming in 1941. He posted undefeated seasons four times before retiring in 1952. (Blanchard’s all-time record does not account for the three other seasons I know he was a coach: Glenrock in 1925, Cokeville in 1928 and Rock Springs in 1929.) (Second place: Harold Bailey, 128-92 at Shoshoni from 1975-2001.)
C: Steve Colling (72-87). The current head coach at Hulett has coached the Red Devils since 1992. Colling has led Hulett to four state runner-up finishes in his tenure, including a career-best 8-1 season in 1994. (Second place: Current Cheyenne Central coach Brick Cegelski, 71-71 since 1996.)
D: Todd Dayton (253-49). By far the all-time winningest coach in state history, Dayton’s accolades over 31 seasons are well known but worth repeating: 17 state championships and nine undefeated seasons. (Second place, both in “D” and all-time: John E. Deti, 205-94-8, most of it at Laramie from 1944-76 but also Meeteetse in 1941 and Shoshoni in 1942.)
E: Joel Eskelsen (148-81). Big Piney’s coach for 25 seasons, Eskelsen — who retired in 2007 — led the Punchers to six state championships. Oddly enough, he never coached an undefeated team. Maybe that’s just more proof that he knows how to coach, and win, in the big games. (Second place: Wes Evans, 40-15 at Torrington from 1937-43.)
F: Jerry Fullmer (174-82). Currently fourth on the state’s all-time victories list (behind the three Ds of Dayton, Deti Sr. and Deti Jr.), Fullmer led Lusk for 30 seasons before retiring in 2004. The Tigers won five state championships in that span, but went undefeated six times (the Tigers were barred from the playoffs in undefeated seasons in 1991 and 1992 for opting to play down). (Second place: Kay Fackrell, 111-79-5 at Goshen Hole (1974), Lyman (1976-79) and Evanston (1980-97).)
G: Walter Gray (140-87). Gray coached Tongue River for 27 seasons (1965-91) and had his best success in the years in which Wyoming did not have postseason playoffs. Gray’s Eagles went unbeaten in 1967, 1973 and 1974 and were also unofficial state champions in 1972 with an 8-1 record. (Second place: Tony Gamble, 93-55-2 at Guernsey-Sunrise from 1967-81 and at Wright from 1985-86.)
H: Dallas Hoff (144-95-6). Hoff is best known for leading Midwest for almost three decades, coaching the Oilers from 1962-89 and helping the team to a state championship in 1979. However, Hoff also coached Superior in 1959 and 1960 (and may have coached them in 1961, too, the final year of the program), and led the Dragons to a 7-0 record — best in school history — in 1960. (Second place: Art Hill, 132-92-3 at Glenrock from 1952-55, Riverton from 1957-58 and Natrona from 1965-83.)
I: C.V. Irvin (21-2). The only coach in state history to have his last name start with “I,” Irvin was no slouch. He led Reliance for three years, 1938-40, and also coached the Pirates in 1943. In those four years, the Pirates lost just twice and at one point won 16 consecutive games with Irvin at the helm.
J: Don Julian (96-32). Julian, the coach at Sheridan since 2007, also led the Riverton program for nine years, leading the Wolverines to four state championships — the only four titles in school history. He also led Sheridan to a state title in 2009 and a runner-up finish last season. (Second place: Andy Johnson, 82-33-7 at Hanna from 1962-65 and Basin from 1966-76.)
K: Bruce Keith (117-82). Speaking of Sheridan, Keith made quite an impression there, didn’t he? He led the Broncs for 16 years (1978-93) and won six state championships in that span, including undefeated seasons in 1982, 1991 and 1992. After a few years away, he came back to Wyoming and led Kelly Walsh for six years, from 1998-2003. (Second place: Current Glenrock coach Ray Kumpula, 81-64 in two stints with the Herders, 1990-96 and 2002-present.)
L: Pat Lynch (91-37). The head coach at Buffalo for the past 13 years, Lynch has built the Bison into a perennial contender in Class 3A. Buffalo — which has reached the title games six times under Lynch — has not had more than three losses in any of the past nine years and won back-to-back titles under him in 2004 and 2005. (Second place: Robert Linford, 83-24 at Star Valley from 1988-98.)
M: John McDougall (156-115-2). Currently fifth on the all-times victories list in state history, McDougall is best known for his time in Cody, where he was the head coach of the Broncs for 25 years (1974-98). The Broncs won a pair of state championships with McDougall leading the way. People tend to forget that McDougall was an established coach before he came to Cody, having led Dubois for the first six years of the program’s existence (1968-73) before joining the Broncs. (Second place: Mike Moon, 136-79-1 at Buffalo from 1974-97.)
N: K.W. Noddings (52-32-7). Noddings made his biggest impression at Powell, leading the Panthers into regular contention in the Bighorn Basin conference. From 1934 to 1940, the Panthers had just one losing season and, in 1938-40, strung together three consecutive one-loss seasons. Noddings came back to coach the Panthers after World War II, leading the team in 1946 and 1947. Before coming to Powell, Noddings led Sundance for five seasons (1929-33). (Noddings’ totals do not include Sundance’s 1929 season.) (Second place: Tim Nolan, 47-12 at Greybull from 1983-89.)
O: Steve Olson (62-51). The coach at Riverside for 14 seasons (1990-2003), Olson had his Rebel teams consistently fighting for conference championships and took his teams to the semifinal round of the playoffs four times — although never to a state title game. (Second place: Pat O’Connor, 24-34 at Lingle from 1999-2005.)
P: Pete Petronovich (113-102-5). Petronovich was at Douglas for what seemed like forever. In 26 seasons leading the Bearcats, from 1943-68, he helped Douglas become a consistent winner, including state championship game appearances in 1952 and 1959. Unfortunately, Petronovich’s final eight seasons in Douglas were all losing seasons, but he still finished his career above .500. (Second place: Bill Pentland, 82-62 at Wheatland from 1982-98.)
Q: Dick Quayle (76-73). Quayle led the Wind River football team for 18 seasons before stepping down in 2004. It was Quayle who led the Cougars to the only undefeated season and the only state championship in school history, helping the team to a 10-0 record and a Class 1A-Division II title in 1997. (Second place: Art Quinlan, 38-13-4 at Lander from 1930-39.)
R: Milt Riske (86-59-4). Ever wonder who Riske Field in Cheyenne is named after? Well, here’s your answer. Riske coached the Cheyenne Central Indians from 1960 to 1975 and helped give stability and consistency to an already solid program. Riske’s best season came in 1965, when the Indians went 9-0-1. (Second place: Current Kemmerer coach Shawn Rogers, 53-18 with the Rangers since 2003.)
S: Rick Scherry (133-84-1). The leader of the Big Horn Rams for 26 years (1975-2000), Scherry helped the school win its first state championship — and wrap up its first undefeated season — in 1985. He also took the Rams to the state title game on four other occasions, including in his final season. (Second place: Ben Smith, 101-33 at Rocky Mountain from 1988-2002.)
T: Phil Treick (63-53-1). Treick seemed to win wherever he went. In the first 11 years of his career — with stops at Manderson (1959), Thermopolis (1965-70) and Rawlins (1973-75 and 1977) — Treick only coached one team with a losing record. Then he came out of retirement to lead a struggling Laramie program in 2003 and 2004, but the Plainsmen went 1-17 in that span. (Second place: Frank Thompson, 52-11-1 at Byron from 1959-66.)
U: Tom Urbach (11-14). Urbach, like C.V. Irvin, is the only coach in his letter class. Urbach led the Greybull program from 2001-03, and had a pair of losing seasons before turning out a winning season (5-4) in his final year.
V: Tony Vinnola (44-27-1). Vinnola turned out winners in his two seasons at Deaver-Frannie (1957 and 1958), which helped him earn the head coaching position at Greybull. He stepped into arguably the best position possible — that season, the talent-laden Buffs went 10-1 and won the school’s only official state championship. The talent didn’t dissipate the next two years, as the Buffs went 8-1 in 1961 and 8-0 in 1962 with Vinnola leading the way. Vinnola coached Greybull for two more years and also had a one-year stop in Thermopolis in 1971. (Second place: Current Lusk coach Matt VandeBossche, 38-18 with the Tigers since 2005.)
W: Jim Wiseman (97-50-1). When you think Torrington football coaches, you think Wiseman. The leader of the Trailblazers for two separate spans, 1960-64 and 1971-80, Wiseman had just two losing seasons in his 15 years at the school. He was also the head coach at Lingle for three years (1947-49). (Second place: Neil Waring, 67-82 at Guernsey-Sunrise (1983-92), Glenrock (1997-2001) and Laramie (2005-07).)
X: Yeah, right. Can you believe it? No Wyoming coach has ever had his last name start with the letter X. Oh, well.
Y: Larry Yeradi (69-73). The coach at Wright for the past 16 seasons, Yeradi’s teams have been consistently competitive. Yeradi’s best finish came in 2005 (state runners-up), although his best team came the season before in 2004. That year, the Panthers went 9-1, losing in the state semis. (Second place: Tony Yerkovich, 19-47, who recently resigned as Rock Springs’ head coach, had led the Tigers since 2004.)
Z: Vince Zimmer (23-5-1). Zimmer was not a head football coach for very long in Wyoming, but he didn’t need much time to create a lasting impression. He led Lusk to an 8-2 season in 1964, then helped Powell to an 8-2 season in 1965 and an 8-1-1 season in 1966. He then went into the college coaching ranks before coming back to the high school level in Wyoming as an administrator. (Second place: Current Ten Sleep coach Jake Zent, 12-13 with the Pioneers since 2007.)
I know this is kind of a goofy way to look at coaching records, but I had fun digging into the backgrounds of some coaches — both well-know and not-so well-known — when I was writing this. Hopefully you had some fun reading it, too.