According to the records that I have compiled, there are 21 coaches in state history who have broken the 100-victory barrier. It’s an incredibly exclusive club, one that coaches enter only with excellence and longevity.
Excellence comes with not only having talented teams, but doing something with them — none of the 21 coaches with at least 100 victories have a career record below the .500 mark. Longevity comes with a passion for coaching, a passion for football and a passion for teaching — making it to 100 victories has taken every one of the 21 coaches at least 15 years to accomplish.
That said, only two current coaches have sustained both the excellence and the years to join the club: Cokeville’s Todd Dayton (an all-time state best 253 victories) and Natrona’s Steve Harshman (125 victories, 14th all-time from 1930-2010).
However, this season, as many as three current coaches could join this club, an unprecedented feat that says more about the individuals than about the group.
The three coaches on the cusp of joining the “100 Club” are Southeast’s Mark Bullington (98 career victories), Sheridan’s Don Julian (96) and Buffalo’s Pat Lynch (91).
If championships are the measure of success, then Bullington has to be included in the discussion of the best all-time. With seven state championships in his 12 years with the Cyclones, Bullington has won in bunches. His career record of 98-23 is a testament to that, too. Although Southeast had a consistent program in place when Bullington took over in 1999, he has made the Cyclones more than just consistent; by now, the Cyclones are threats for a state championship in every year, no matter the makeup of the roster.
Julian, meanwhile, is one of the most respected coaches in the state, a reputation earned with four championships in Riverton and another last year in Sheridan. After a short break from the high school game to join the staff at UW, Julian has been restoring the Sheridan program into a consistent state title contender. He is one coach the others don’t want to see on that other sideline. His career record, while coaching against some of the state’s best teams? 96-32.
Lynch has the toughest task of joining the club in 2011, with nine victories standing between him and the honor. But if anyone can overcome the odds, it’s Lynch. Working with one of 3A’s smallest schools, enrollment-wise, Lynch has rolled up a record of 91-37, winning at least seven games every season from 2003 forward. Since taking the reins of the Buffalo program in 1998, he has won a pair of state titles and taken the Bison to the title game four other times.
Obviously, 100 is an arbitrary mark. It doesn’t truly measure the things that make a high school coach great. But earning 100 victories takes those qualities that make coaches not only good coaches, but good men and good mentors for the children they lead.
Here is a quick glance at the club, with totals compiled from 1930 to 2010 to the best of my abilities:
|Deti, John E.||205||94||8|
|Deti, John R.||188||102||2|