A coach on and off the field
Lance Scranton places faith, family and students above sport
November 23, 2007
Craig — At 6-feet-2-inches tall and weighing 240 pounds, Lance Scranton is an imposing figure.
As an English teacher at Moffat County High School, he towers above students who try their hardest not to bump into him in the hallway. Students who make sure the “big guy” doesn’t catch them out of class.
As defensive coordinator for the school’s football team, his face tightens up in a scowl as he barks directions at 11 boys on the field.
On the ice as a defensemen for the Craig Red Dogs men’s hockey team, he stands 6-feet-8-inches tall on skates. His pads and equipment give him a heavier, larger appearance. When playing against him, this is the man standing between you and the goal.
But when digging deeper, one comes to realize everything isn’t always as it appears.
In the hallways of the school, he rests his large hands on the shoulders of students. A grin erupts above a broad chin, a chin that has been strapped inside a helmet for most of his life.
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He asks “How’s everything going? Are you getting your assignments done?”
He’s not there to discourage freedom; he’s there to teach. The opportunity for him to impress upon a student the smallest tidbit of knowledge is what gets him out of bed each morning.
On the football field, he’s more of a father to his unit. Not a dictator.
When he yells to his players, it’s about believing in them, as opposed to criticizing their flaws.
In the hockey arena, he’s not out to draw blood or destroy egos. He’s more prone to help a player up from the ice, rather than knock him down to it.
And on Sundays, the man who won a national championship in Canadian junior football won’t be found in front of the television watching football.
He’ll be in church.
Scranton is a chameleon of sorts. He changes with the tides, when the tides bring him a new challenge.
He’ll be the first to tell you the slogan he used all year with the football team.
“Flip the switch,” he says proudly. “I’m trying to get across to the kids they can act one way on the field and another off. If you act responsible off the field, then flip that switch when you get on the field, nobody will ever question you.”
He is strict in one aspect of his life, and that area is his priorities.
“God, family, teaching and sports. That will never change. It all starts upstairs,” he says, gesturing to the sky.
Growing up in Canada, he was torn between hockey and football at a young age. As a high school junior, he played junior B hockey and was drafted by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. The problem was he had made a promise to the coaching staff of Dickinson State University in North Dakota.
Scranton is a man who keeps his promises. He says he always has, always will.
So, he played college ball for four years as a 305-pound defensive end, dragging down quarterbacks with relentless drive.
He knew by then coaching was his calling, and he knew what he wanted to coach.
“I realized then I didn’t want to be a college coach, that’s for sure,” he said, laughing. “There is way too much politics at that level. I enjoy the high school game.”
He had met his wife Nadine at school, and they moved together to Arizona, where Scranton took his first coaching job as head coach of the Duncan Wildcats.
In his second season, he took a program that hadn’t won a game in four years to the state championship playoffs.
“I learned a lot those years,” he said. “I figured out you can only put so much pressure on the kids. You have to find the differences between them, not just group them together as a whole.”
He liked the small-town appeal of America, so when Craig needed a football coach, Scranton answered.
He’s been the defensive coordinator for six years now, a position he truly cherishes.
“I really enjoy coaching with (head coach Kip Hafey),” he said. “He and I have taken a lot of chances together. I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.”
He teaches life lessons to students in the classroom and out.
“A lot of the kids want to see pictures of me from before,” the 44-year old said. “I tell them my time has come and gone. It’s their time now.”
Scranton’s focus is on being a role model to the youths he encounters each and every day.
“I’m showing these kids you can be a man and love the Lord,” he said. “You can be competitive in the world and be a Christian on Sunday.”
In his youth, his actions on the field often decided the outcome of the sport he was playing.
These days, his actions are more geared toward helping those he touches make the right decisions.
“I get a chance to show these kids that I care about them and love them,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can in life to help them do the right thing.
“If they play football, hockey or neither, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about me – it’s about them.”