For legions of young men who passed through Moffat County High School in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Mike Deyo will always be remembered as a fiery and passionate football coach who preached teamwork and dedication.
Deyo, 45, was killed in a traffic accident on U.S. Highway 40 Friday afternoon while returning from a competition for underground mine rescue squads in Price, Utah. Funeral arrangements were still pending Monday afternoon.
Deyo, a standout prep athlete for Moffat County High School, returned to Craig become a coach in the mid-'80s after attending the University of Northern Colorado on a football scholarship. He taught physical education and science at Craig Middle School for about a decade while coaching at the high school. He spent the last several years working at Twentymile Coal Co.
As a youth, he was raised in an athletic family, his brother Steve Deyo said Monday. His father Douglas Deyo, was a coach, teacher and athletic director at the high school. Mike Deyo was an all-conference and all-state football player.
"He was great with kids," said former Craig Middle School principal and athletic director Don Riley. "He was an effective and innovative teacher, but he really loved coaching."
Former MCHS athletes said Deyo's legacy is his success as a motivator. He was the defensive coordinator for the football team.
Dan Pleasant, who graduated in 1987 and went on to play for the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers described Deyo as "intense."
"If you didn't do it right or the way you were supposed to, sure, he'd be on you. On the flip side, he was the first one to pat you on the back if you did what he asked."
Pleasant remembers a speech before a playoff game against Longmont his senior year. Deyo had a mayonnaise jar filled with beans and ping pong ball and was trying to illustrate the concept of cream rising to the top, Pleasant said.
"He had this look in his eyes and was so fired up about the whole thing. We were outside and he was yelling and screaming and he was about to throw the jar against the building, but he was so worked up, he fumbled it and threw it into the grass."
The glass didn't break and the bewildered team was too scared by Deyo's intensity to laugh.
"He could get more fired up about a game than anybody," Pleasant said. "If life would have been a football game, he would have been the best at it."
MCHS baseball coach Scott Parker calls Deyo the best coach he ever had. "Whatever it took, it seems he always had the things to say to bring out the best in his players. Sometimes he yelled at you; sometimes he just talked to you. He was the motivating factor that got me into coaching."
After his coaching stint, Deyo eventually moved to Oak Creek. He started working at Twentymile in August 2001. After about a year, he joined the mine rescue team -- a group of miners specially trained to rescue people in emergency situations.
"That became his team. The mine rescue stuff took the place of coaching and football," Steve Deyo said.
Mike Deyo was also an emergency medical technician with the Oak Creek ambulance service said Dianna Scott, the mine rescue coordinator and senior safety representative at Twentymile.
"He was a hard worker, even with crews underground," Scott said, but Deyo proved to be a valuable member of the mine rescue crew where he was given primary first aid responsibilities after he got his EMT certification.
"He was a football coach and he was very competitive and he brought that competitiveness with him to mine rescue," Scott said.
The rescue squads from Twentymile had just taken third place overall in a competition against other rescue squads from throughout the West in Price, Utah, when the fatal accident occurred.
Deyo was a passenger in a vehicle driven by fellow mine rescue team member Jody Gregory. Gregory told investigators he had fallen asleep at the wheel when the Ford Explorer he was driving collided with a tanker truck.
Jody Gregory's father and Deyo's father had officiated a lot of scholastic sports together, Steve Deyo said.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gregory family," Deyo said.
Mike Deyo is survived by his children, Lindsay Deyo of Grand Junction, Kellan Douglas Deyo of Grand Junction and Jacob Jones of Albuquerque; his parents, Douglas and Patricia Deyo of Lakeside, Calif.; his brother Steve Deyo of Craig; a nephew, Jason Phillips of Craig, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.