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Deyo takes over Hornets' defense

August 25, 2001|By CHRIS GRANT, Sports Editor

For Jeff Deyo, coaching football is yet another challenge that he's willing to meet head on.

The former Imperial Valley College and Central Union basketball coach decided this spring to take the job as the Calipatria High School football team's defensive coordinator.

It's a job he's happy to have.

"Anybody that's known me has seen me at as many football games as basketball games," he said. "I love the game of football. (Calipatria head coach) Stuart (Black) has told me for years that I love football more than basketball. I guess we'll find that out this year."

Deyo spent the past year helping the IVC women's basketball team, so he has not been completely absent from the coaching world. However, the football field is a long way from the basketball court. Through hard work, Deyo plans on making that trip as short as possible.

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"Since I made the commitment in the spring I've been to a number of coaching clinics," he said. "I spent some time with Sacramento State's defensive line coach and I've been in contact with (New York Giants defensive line coach) Denny Marcin. Everyone I know who knows anything about football, I've been pestering them.

"I'm a rookie as a defensive coordinator. After five guys I'm a little confused. This is a much more complex game. It's an unbelievable challenge for me to acquire the knowledge, strategies and techniques that we need to be successful. I imagine the other coaches in the Valley are licking their chops."

It will be a system similar to the one the Giants use that Deyo will employ with the Hornets. He hopes the ball-hawking style will complement Calipatria's ground assault.

"We're going to do a little bit more gambling," he said. "We're going to go for the throat. I hope the defense will complement the offense better. It will be a lot different concept than last year. The team will be much more aggressive."

"What he lacks in experience he makes up for in hard work," said Black. "His presence on the field is awesome and he's done a fantastic job with the defense."

Deyo's relationship with Black seems to be the main reason he chose to try his hand at football. The two have known each other since 1980, when Black was playing for the IVC football team and Deyo was coaching at the school. The pair teamed up to coach a Pop Warner squad for two years in the early 1990s. It was at the Pop Warner level that Deyo got his only football coaching experience.

"Stuart and I coached together in Pop Warner for two years," Deyo said. "He coached for me and now I'm coaching for him. We go way back."

Said Black: "I feel like Jeff's a fantastic motivator and I wanted him as much for the staff as for the kids. It didn't take too much arm twisting (to allow him to coach)."

While he may not have a lot of football coaching experience, Deyo is no stranger to the game. His father was a football coach in Iowa and Deyo played for Kofa High in Yuma. In fact, he played for the Kofa freshman team against Central for the league championship in 1965. Deyo's team lost 19-6.

"My football ties in the Valley are a lot deeper than people think," Deyo added.

One thing Deyo will have working for him is a solid group of Calipatria players.

"I'm in awe of the awesome job that Coach Black has done," Deyo said. "These are some of the best kids I've ever dealt with as far as commitment, work ethic and desire. It's been a big relief."

Not only has it been a relief, but his players have helped Deyo renew his love of coaching.

"My biggest problem the last couple of years in basketball was I questioned whether I had more desire than my team," he said. "These players have been a breath of fresh air. The kids really want it and that's what I needed to revitalize my coaching career."

As for whether he will ever want to move up to a head football coaching position, Deyo is leaving that up in the air.

"I've been spoiled the last year," Deyo said of his time helping with the Arab women's basketball team. "I've deferred the head coaching to other people and I kind of like that. It's a luxury I enjoy. But this could lead to something long-term."

Deyo is counting the days as he waits for the Hornets to take the field for their first game at 7 p.m. Friday at home against Antelope.

"I feel like I did when I was 14 years old and getting ready for my first game," he said. "I'm anxious to get out there and test our scheme."

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