Guest commentary: Lance Scranton: All in for facility upgrades



Lance Scranton


"Our football field is average at best, the first three rows of the stands are not usable because they sit below the field, the press box is an embarrassment, the sound system is weak, and the track has huge dips. The whole stadium complex is hum-drum."

— Lance Scranton, Moffat County High School English teacher and football coach, from his column concerning facility upgrades needed at MCHS

Since moving to Craig to be an English teacher and football coach 14 years ago, there have been many changes at our high school.

When Joel Sheridan hired me in 1998, Moffat County High School was a hub of activity with a student body of more than 875.

John Haddan asked me to run the football team’s offense. I met Kip Hafey, and we all got to work on the upcoming season.

We had a coaching staff of former high school and college players, and I was confident we could whip 70 players into a fighting machine.

I remember the first student pep rally I attended, led by Student Council sponsor Jim Loughran.

It was crazy.

The gymnasium stands were filled with kids yelling and screaming, and teachers were on the floor competing in contests with the kids.

The atmosphere was electric.

The first game was even crazier.

We played a powerhouse team from Green River, Wyo., and found ourselves in a dogfight. While we lost the game, we learned we had a pretty decent team, and later we would go on to make the playoffs, but lose to the eventual state champions from Evergreen.

The academic side was just as crazy.

I taught five English classes that averaged between 25 to 35 students. We had a zero hour period and I asked Joel Sheridan if I could offer a weightlifting class for our athletes.

He said, “Put it in the schedule, and if they sign-up, absolutely.”

They did sign up, and so began a 14-year mission to help improve our athletic teams through strength and conditioning.

Most of our teams were doing pretty well, and a unified lifting program was a tough sell at the time because it didn’t seem necessary.

But, change was inevitable and began in April 1999 when the Columbine tragedy sent schools reeling around the country.

Making certain students were safe and parents could allow their children to attend our schools with a certain level of security became the priority. Suddenly, our open and welcoming attitude about kids and schools began to change.

By 9/11, things had somewhat gotten back to normal when my colleague, Craig Conrad, hurried by me in the hallway shouting, “We are under attack,” on his way to the library.

I watched in shock with other teachers and students as the news media reported that jets were being flown into the Twin Towers, and there was an attack on the Pentagon.

These events would have a lasting impact on our schools.

We began to pay much more attention to how our buildings were secured, and over time how we taught our students.

We began a very expensive upgrade of our facilities to monitor how students and visitors entered our schools, implemented a long process of upgrading how we delivered instruction, and our enrollment began to drop.

Things were indeed changing.

Along the way, it was inevitable that something was going to suffer at the cost of upgrading our buildings and improving instruction while our student population was in a steady decline.

Athletics began to lose the focus it once had in our school district.

Athletic budgets were cut, resources dwindled and hiring teachers who also coached was not a priority, nor, it seemed, were athletic programs.

Around the state, strength programs were becoming part of the success strategy, but I was up against a certain principal who was telling our staff that students could take a weightlifting class only once in their four years at the high school.

We were changing, but not in a positive direction for athletics.

When I began my career at MCHS, Sheridan was impressed that I was a coach, had played football at a high level, had a passion outside of the academic classroom, and he saw that strength training was important for athletic success.

Back then, many of the teachers were coaches, but today, with a staff of more than 35 teachers, there are only five coaches in the building who also teach.

Our school truly has gone through some major changes.

However, last week, I attended a meeting I believe will be remembered as a watershed moment that will positively impact sports programs at our high school.

I experienced the passion the community has for the athletic programs their sons and daughters will be part of, and how they want to help coaches build successful teams by forming a booster club.

But, what will have a lasting impact on me was a grassroots organization, spearheaded by Tony Peroulis, who spoke forcefully about naming our football field after Doug Deyo, who served our district for 31 years.

Opinions were expressed and some tempers flared, but at the end the discussion, I kept thinking: Naming a mere football field after Doug Deyo is simply not enough.

To name something after someone who has had such an impact on our community, we need to think big. We need upgrades.

Our football field is average at best, the first three rows of the stands are not usable because they sit below the field, the press box is an embarrassment, the sound system is weak, and the track has huge dips.

The whole stadium complex is hum-drum.

Coaches Hafey and Trapp, myself, and the football and track and field staffs have repeatedly asked for upgrades, but the stadium simply has not had the focus of our resources over the past 14 years, so it’s repaired year after year just enough to keep it usable.

My hope is that after we have a booster club in place and get all of our resources directed at honoring Doug Deyo that we can also pull together as a community to upgrade our sports complex so it’s worthy of naming.

I hope to be standing on the sidelines next fall, under the Friday night lights, getting ready for the big game when the stadium announcer begins …

“Welcome to the Doug Deyo Sports Complex and Memorial Stadium for tonight’s contest between the Bulldogs of Moffat County and …”

As a community, as fans, parents, and supporters, we will look around with pride at our upgraded sports complex and everyone in attendance, listening on the radio, or watching on the Internet will know Doug Deyo had a huge impact on our school and motivated us to change things for the better.

Let the upgrade begin — I’m all in.

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truthhurts 5 years, 3 months ago

Me too! Time to reinstall an athletic tradition. Not only in our youth but parents and community as well.


2aLegal 5 years, 3 months ago

Do you have to have a student in the school at this time or can a parent of two alumni be a booster club member?


calvinhobbs 5 years, 3 months ago

Nice job coach! Research shows kids that do extra curricular also do better grade wise. Look at the girls basketball program, they are like 5 time class 4 A State Academic Champions. But that never makes the paper.


dogfan 5 years, 3 months ago

2aLegal: I see no reason that you couldn't be a member. If you want to join and support MCHS show up to a meeting.


Cole White 5 years, 3 months ago

Will a new stadium help the Bulldogs win more than two or three games a year? Or a new track make student athletes faster? Xbox, Nintendo, and a tradition of lack-luster performances and programs that focus on one or two players that never truly quite develop is what eats at our athletic programs.

What good is going to a Football game when no one has the common sense god gave a goose to make the student body stand (let them stand) at either one end of the bleachers or the other instead of right in the middle of the stands and block the view for hundreds of people from one direction or another when the game moves down into the red zone.

Very few seniors go out for sports in comparison to the other classes because of the BS they have to go through starting in Middle School. In the next few years it will only get worse as a couple of the coaches sons will rise through the ranks and get a lions share of the game time and the focus of the practice regardless of their talent level.

If you want a successful football program use the booster money to hire a new coaching staff instead of dumping money a new sports facility at the high school.

I've beat this dead horse a number of times and while I don't expect to saddle up the horse and go for a ride, I would think that 14 years of mediocricy is enough.


David Moore 5 years, 3 months ago

I try to go to every home game I can and have often wondered.....Why do the students stand up in front of everyone else? I agree, make them stand on one end of the bleachers or the other, better yet, put them at one end of the field or the other, my 11 year old does not need to hear what comes out of their mouths either.


nostrashawnus 5 years, 3 months ago

It makes the bile in my stomach raise to my throat every time I hear the praises of "Doug Deyo." As my experiences with the man were nothing pleasant. He was degrading, rude, and sometimes just plain mean to students. I had the "pleasure" of being called fat, and taunted by him, yet I wasn't a troublemaker or a bad student. I saw him act that way to several others, but I guess we were the minority.


David Moore 5 years, 3 months ago

Coach Deyo....I received some pretty wicked swats from him myself, one for the previous one not being hard enough, just for running across the gym on a dare on the last day of school. I hold no ill will, but it would land a coach in jail in our time now. As with many coaches and athletic programs in this area, even back in my school days, you had to have the right name or worth behind you, otherwise you were just a warm body. How about naming the field just plain old Bulldog field, Bulldog stadium, or maybe they could name it after some war hero that played ball for Moffat County.


mamacharch 5 years, 3 months ago

The kids stand where the cheerleaders are - right? I suppose we could do assigned seating like they do in Steamboat. Personally, I don't like being told where I can or cannot sit.


dogfan 5 years, 3 months ago

I see no reason why the students couldn't stand on one of the ends that way the other fans would be able to see.


onewhocares 5 years, 3 months ago

Instead of naming the stadium after a coach with a questionable history, why not name it after a student that did amazing things?

"The Clint Wells Complex and Memorial Stadium"

Also, a little birdie told me, that when Scranton was head coach the team was known as "beastly" and accomplished amazing things. (Although Coach Hafey is a terrific man, sometimes when things don't work over & over, it's time to change things to maybe a way it will work. Remember the definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over & over, expecting different results.


onewhocares 5 years, 3 months ago

From son & current student: I don't see why, where we/the students stand is an issue. Everyone keeps saying why don't they stand on one end of the stadium, well why don't you if you have a problem with it? We're not just watching a simple football game, we're watching our good friends play a brutal sport, that of course evokes harsh emotions & demands support. Also, you must be crazy if you expect us to "monitor" our language for the other fans or prudish parents. The fact is, we're high school kids and of course we're going to yell and scream and get rowdy; it's what we do to support our friends. . Yes, I agree that really foul language isn't appropriate, but c'mon, we're 15-18 years old. oh well, get over it.


David Moore 5 years, 3 months ago

Get over it!!! This is the exact poor attitude I am referring to regarding those who rudely stand in front of others and use filthy language while at a football game, oblivious to anyone else around them. People pay admission to those games, while students do not, and they expect to get their moneys worth, that is not something they get when they can only watch the game from mid field. Trust me when I say this, it is not just a couple people on this forum complaining, I hear it at games, I hear people talking about it after games on the way to the lot, I hear it standing in line at the concession. It is not proper and if you want to be in the middle where the cheerleaders are, fine, but sit down. We never did that when watching games in that very stadium back when I was in high school, we would have been told to sit down or leave. Not only is this your problem, but the admin. and those policing the grounds and stands as well, they should be enforcing the fact others cannot see the game and make you sit down or leave. There is nothing wrong with moving your group to one end of the stands or the other, nothing. It would be a show of respect for the adults and alumni attending games, but unfortunately that is something lacking in today's youth, respect, for anything. The only thing I hope these kids "get over" is their lack of respect for young and old, if you are representing your school and your friends playing, in my opinion, you are a pretty poor representation with your foul language and disrespect by blocking the view of others. As for the topic of this thread, which I have helped skew off course(my apologies), I still believe it should be named after some war vet who played ball here, whether living or gone. That would be the ultimate show of respect.


onewhocares 5 years, 3 months ago

Hey David, I respect your opinion, but you have to remember, the school's academic & sports purpose should be to encourage the kids to excel and strive for greatness in both areas. Students are not going to know who a war vet is (unfortunately), but all will know who Clint Wells (or even JT Hadden who excels still in football) are and what they have accomplished. The name isn't for the parents or folks long out of school, it needs to be for the students and for the students to be proud of & to know what they can accomplish if they try hard enough. Secondly, you just trashed in your tirade above, one of the nicest, most polite students there is who shows great respect to his teachers and people he deals with. You'd be surprised who he is. Also, instead of attacking his thoughts, shouldn't he be rewarded for wanting to support his team as earnestly as he can. (He did not say it was okay for foul language to be used.) Why not designate that center part just for the kids & the adults sit on the outside? It's not that hard to do.


David Moore 5 years, 3 months ago

I really don't care who they name it after as long as it is not the person suggested in the article. As for trashing your child, you have perceived that wrong and I apologize if it came across that way, I am speaking of the students who disrespect people and use foul language as a whole, as a group. In my opinion that sort of attitude is not good representation of the school, the team or themselves. Do you think these games are just for the students? I would hope not and if the community is to get re-involved in the spirit and compassion for the game, they need to deal with a couple problems first, one being that students do not stand in the middle of the stadium where others cannot see. I guarantee you if that were my child being that disrespectful, she would certainly be paying the consequences and not returning to any future games. Why not just sit down, is that too much to ask? I enjoy going to the games, I know several parents of kids playing and it is a great time to hook up with them and chat a bit about things going on, but it makes it less enjoyable having to listen to some kid yelling about what he is going to do to his girlfriend later while smaller kids are walking by or sitting near them. I admire your child for saying that is wrong, obviously one of the few. I respect your position, mine is different and thank you for respecting it in turn. Thank you for remaining civil and sorry if I appeared to be targeting your child in particular, I was not.


lonelyone 5 years, 3 months ago

Since Steve Deyo just passed away, I was going to suggest something like the Deyo Family Sports Field, because of Mr. Deyo, Mike, who was a teacher and a former player and Steve who was a player and a ref, but it appears, the Deyo name doesn't bode well for many posters. It would be interesting to see what names are brought up for this. Also to onewhocares, I know kids get excited over games. Heck we did too, but we would never have been allowed to act like you guys do. My kids have been out of school for many years and this was a problem then. Why the admin has never done anything about it, just baffles me. I don't think remaining in the center of the seating area is a good idea, because you just continue to get in the way of others who want to watch. Being on one end or the other makes more sense. You should also care what these adults are saying to you, because from what I hear things are in need of repair or help up there at the football/track field. If you continue to act like spoiled rotten kids....not all but some do....there may not be a Booster Club and without the Booster club, the track might not be fixed, the announcing booth and several other things might not get fixed, because you know the school district is hurting and these things may not be high on the districts priority list. I also know that much of what we have to say on here will not mean diddly to you and you will only start to understand what we are saying when you grow up and have kids of your own.


Cole White 5 years, 3 months ago

Im not sure why I am doing this because if the average person can't understand why the kids standing in the middle of the stands is bad then they won't understand this........

Its simple geometry....draw isosceles triangle on a piece of paper. If you are on left side (except way up high or way down low in the stands) of the triangle, you can only see just past the right of the point, if you are on the right side you can only see just past the left of the point (missing the entire red zone). The kids standing in the middle are the point. Anyone following me here? Its not that hard. If you make the kids stand on one end or the other (we really don't care) everyone sees. I don't know why this is so hard for either the kids or the school officials to grasp. Go to ANY school like Moffat County's size and that is what they do.

So to visualize the solution, draw a right angle triangle (kids are the point on the right angle side) and you will see that EVERYONE can see. It isn't being jerky....ITS JUST COMMON SENSE!!

Lastly, in response to the young man who posted a comment.....easily 90% of those congregating in middle aren't watching the game anyways....they are chatting and texting and not even paying attention. Sure they may yell when someone scores but I have heard dozens of kids start screaming and then ask....."what just happened??"


Really 5 years, 3 months ago

How about MEMORIAL STADIUM? Then ANYONE who has lost a loved one can buy a commemorative brick, paver, bench - whatever - to honor them. In 50 years no one will know Deyo, and this way everyone can be remembered.


lonelyone 5 years, 3 months ago

ranger, I think the Admin needs to set the ground rules because it is their responciblity as far as I'm concerned. Yes parents need to teach their kids better manners, how to behave in public and respect for others. BUT how many parents go to the games with their high school children to watch the game. How many parents are going to walk around a babysit 50, 100 or maybe 200 screaming wild misbehaved high school students? If you think it is so easy to do, go up there and handle it yourself. My point is, is that this problem has been brought up time and time again and the Principal and his Assistant Principals and the Admin need to get a handle on this. They need to say, this is where the student body will sit and this is how you will behave and if you are caught using bad language you will not be allowed to attend another football game this season or basketball or whatever it is. You don't have kids so you just won't really get this I'm sure. But I can't tell you how many times I've heard of someone telling a parent their child has done something that wasn't nice....whatever it may be and the parent will look you right in the eye and say MY CHILD WOULD NEVER DO THAT!! Many of us don't want to believe our kids would do certain things because they were taught better than that, but once they walk out the front door, you hope they have listened to some of the things you've said and of course they aren't going to act too bad in front of you, but they may try to get away with all kinds of stuff when you aren't around and that's why having the ADMIN handle some of these problems seems to be the best way to get things straightened out.


lonelyone 5 years, 3 months ago

Ranger, I get what you are saying because I was raised the same way. BUT we're not in the 60's or 70's anymore. Parents don't parent like ours did anymore. I'm not going to say they are bad parents, because I am sure I made plenty mistakes myself. But these kids are attending a school function and because of that, I think the Administration needs to set the ground rules and the kids need to abide by them. I don't expect them to parent the kids when the parents won't do it. I just think if these kids are using bad language and being disrepectful then boot them out. Same as they'd do in school during class or walking in the halls.


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