Gone but not forgotten in the Moffat County community, Steve Deyo now will be immortalized for his contributions to high school football across the state of Colorado.
The Craig native is set to be inducted into the Colorado Football Officials Association Hall of Fame at 1 p.m. Dec. 8 at the CFOA luncheon.
Deyo was a 1978 graduate of Moffat County High School, was an All-American football player in high school and played football at the University of Northern Colorado before returning to Craig, where he eventually became a football referee. He spent over 20 years as an official, refereed playoff games for the majority of that time and was on the crew that called the state championships in 2000 and 2006.
Deyo was on his way to a Hall of Fame-worthy officiating career anyway, but his candidacy was tragically sped up when he died last January at age 52.
An inductee must be retired from officiating for three years before becoming eligible, or if a death is involved a candidate can be inducted that same year. Longtime officiating partner and friend Elvis Iacovetto said when CFOA heard the sad news and received an outpouring of support for Deyo and his family, it was an easy decision to include him in the 2012 class.
“They tried to open up a slot for the banquet when they heard about it and he was nominated by the community, so this was a good year to get him in the hall of fame,” Iacovetto said.
The hall of fame committee does not have a checklist of requirements it looks at before deciding on a candidate, but a career like Deyo’s is an easy call.
“Longevity is important, Steve was a 20-year veteran,” Iacovetto said. “Contributing to the association, he was our area director for a lot of years. Being a good official is important too. It’s a way to honor somebody who’s put in a lot of years of service.”
According to his family and friends, Deyo was a hall-of-famer off the football field as well. Jason Phillips, Deyo’s stepson, said he was a major influence.
“He was my stepfather and he treated me like I was his only son, so in that regard he was a huge influence in all aspects of my life,” Phillips said. “He also was influential in getting me into sports and supporting me in sports.”
Mary Lynn Deyo, Steve's wife, said Steve had no trouble lighting up the faces of the people he encountered on a daily basis.
“Steve is just a jovial, good-time guy,” she said. “People loved him, loved to work with him. He was a man of many hats.”
While he did many different things during his time in Craig (including ranching and working at Craig Ford), refereeing was a constant. It was a way for Deyo to stay connected to the game he loved.
Phillips said Deyo was a good official because he was there to help whoever he was officiating.
“I think he always understood the big picture,” Phillips said. “He knew that a seventh grade B team game, that the players are going to need a little more leeway and they’re going to need to educate those guys more. All the way to the varsity championship games he did, he was very skilled technically, making the right calls in those games.”
His effect on the western part of the state, where he did the lion’s share of his regular season games, was palpable. This season his fellow area referees and the coaches of local teams wore a football-shaped pin with “SD” on it in his honor.
Deyo’s family, including mother Patricia who lives in San Diego, were excited to hear of his upcoming induction. They understood what an honor it would have been for Deyo, who’s father Doug is also in the CFOA Hall.
“It’s special for our whole family,” Phillips said. “It’s something he really took seriously. I think if nothing else this is great to solidify the Deyos’ legacy in Moffat County, Craig and statewide.”
Mary Lynn is honored at Steve's induction, but acknowledged she, her family and football refs across the state are missing Deyo’s presence.
“It’s such an honor,” she said. “Steve would be humbled. I’m humbled by it. The sports world, they’re feeling an emptiness (with him gone). We miss him and his humor. He was just fun to have around.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org.