Late last winter, White Salmon Valley Schools Athletic Director Howard Kreps asked longtime Columbia High assistant football coach Dan Smith to replace John Hallead, who had resigned as head football coach at the end of December 2017 after six seasons.
CHS held its first organized team exercise under Smith June 11-15, when the Bruins assembled on the CHS practice field for spring football practices. That led the Bruins into football camp at Linfield College in McMinnville, Ore., June 17-20.
Now, the Henkle Middle School P.E. teacher is preparing daily practice plans for his first 12 days of pre-season football practice, between Aug. 15-30, to get the Bruins ready for their 2018 season and home opener on Aug. 31 against Goldendale. The Bruins have won the last three games in the Klickitat County Cup rivalry and lead the 15-year-old series 8-7.
Smith will be coaching offensive and defensive linemen. His four-man staff includes two holdovers from Hallead’s staff: Bryan Charters and Shawn Friese.
Charters will be coaching quarterbacks, and Friese will be in charge of wide receivers and defensive backs.
The fourth man, Christian Morris, is new to coaching high school football. He has been assigned to work with running backs and linebackers.
The Enterprise and Smith, a Lyle resident, played email Q&A shortly after Smith accepted the position. Our questions (in bold) and his answers follow.
What’s it feel like to be the next CHS football coach?
I am very excited to be the next CHS football coach. I have been able to coach under two excellent coaches in Larry McCutcheon and John Hallead. The experience I had under both of them has prepared me for this position. John has been a great mentor the past six years as my head coach. My goal is to carry on the great tradition that has been established by the former CHS coaches.
What are your first steps in establishing your leadership of the program?
My first steps are to establish a team-first philosophy. Our mantra will be BIG TEAM, little me! Make the sacrifices necessary for team success. We will talk about the team and individual goals every week and what is required to achieve those goals.
Give us an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes in a football program, from the head coach’s perspective now.
The biggest change that I have noticed so far as head coach are all of the scheduling requirements related to summer football. Communicating with players, coaches, and athletic director is new. Making decisions for summer camp, spring football practice, and conditioning is a new responsibility that are the biggest changes as head coach up to this point. Addition-ally, making final decisions for depth chart and game planning are those behind the scenes decisions that I was not necessarily involved with as an assistant.
Would you mind providing me with histories of your own athletic playing days at Lyle, post-secondary education, coaching experiences?
I was a four-year football letter-winner at Lyle High School. I also played basketball all four years, started as a junior and senior in both sports. I also played baseball as a junior and ran track as a senior.
Upon graduating, I attended Washington State University. I graduated with a BA in History, Minor in Psychology, and a 4-12 teaching certificate. I student taught at Columbia High School in the spring of 2002; while there I was given the opportunity to coach JV baseball under Larry McCutcheon.
I was hired in Glenwood that fall and took over as the head girls basketball coach, a position I held for three seasons. I also coached baseball for Trout Lake/Glenwood in 2005.
I began coaching football at Henkle Middle School fall of 2003 as an assistant. I took over as the head middle school football coach in 2004 and held that position until I moved up to the high school in the 2009 season.
I have been an assistant football coach at CHS for the past nine years. Additionally, I came back to CHS baseball as an assistant in 2006 and served in that role under Larry McCutcheon and Jeremy Denny until resigning after the 2012 baseball season.
Are you looking to maintain the one-back offense, or will you be implementing a different system, and what would that be, if so?
We will be running shotgun single back again this year. Defensively, we will be looking at switching to a 4-3.
Who were the players you idolized growing up? Is football your favorite sport?
Football is definitely my favorite sport. Growing up my favorite players were Jerry Rice and Joe Montana.