Smyte Embraces Jr. Blue DevilsUpdated Friday January 19, 2018 by Paul Hasson.
Steve Smyte, who in 2010-12 was Davis High’s head football coach, again has been named to that position.
The Davis Board of Education approved the hire at Thursday’s meeting after an eight-person selection panel made the recommendation last month.
Smyte, a special-education instructor at DHS, has a lengthy résumé that includes assistant coaching stints at UC Davis, Boise State and the CFL. Most recently, he was an advance scout for the Aggies and former coach Ron Gould.
At DHS, he replaces John Wiley, who sported a 10-31 record in four years (including an 0-10 mark this past season).
While holding the Blue Devil reins in 2010-12, Smyte compiled an 8-21 record, improving each year from a 1-9 start to 5-5 his final campaign. Smyte resigned after that season because of what he calls “a difference of opinion and philosophy” with administrators of the era.
“I could not be more excited to have coach Steve Smyte as the new leader of Blue Devil football,” said Davis High Athletic Director Jeff Lorenson. “Steve not only has distinguished himself as a highly knowledgeable coach for the Blue Devils, he is a valued and highly respected teacher on our campus.
“Steve is a coach who inspires and motivates athletes with his passion for the game and his strong character values. It is no secret that a football program can set the tone for the entire school year — bringing excitement and spirit to the school and community. Under coach Smyte’s leadership, the future of DHS football is sure to be exciting.”
Smyte took some time Friday to chat with The Enterprise about his second go-round with the Devils…
“First step will be to talk to the players. After all, this is their team,” Smyte explained. ” ‘Where do you want to go?’ will be the first question. I have an idea of what I’d like to see out of it, but it’s really important to get their input on what they want to do.”
Smyte, who has been a constant presence at early-morning conditioning called “zero period,” already has begun informal conversations with student-athletes and expects to have a formal gathering of players in the next week. A parents meeting will be scheduled early next month, he pledges.
The coach says he has a lot of administrative work to do as well. He’s begun reviewing California Interscholastic Federation rule changes, is reintroducing himself to things like dead periods and practice-time restrictions, and is scheduling important dates including spring practice, summer leagues and the actual beginning of workouts for another rugged fall schedule.
“I believe I am the head coach of a program,” Smyte points out. “And by program I mean Junior Blue Devils, freshmen, JV, varsity. One thing I’ve always talked about is the cradle-to-grave mentality. I thought we did a great job of that the last time through.”
Smyte pointed to working with youth football coaches like John Griffiths, Marty Morse, Scott Carrell and administrator Al Inouye to build the numbers of the DJBD ranks. Like Dan Gazzaniga before him, Smyte’s high school teams embraced the little Devils. Working to make jargon and systems similar throughout the ranks, Junior Blue Devil numbers grew from 60 to almost 180 in fewer than three seasons.
“We had a lot of success in those programs,” Smyte remembers. “Al, John, Marty, Dan, (Craig) Barksdale … they did a fabulous job. Everybody was running the same system. Everybody was winning. There was a real positive flavor. Our JV team was excellent — they ruled Sierra camp (in 2012). Our Junior Blue Devils won four championships.
“We were very proud of that part of the program.”
Smyte says the “cradle-to-grave” comments means he wants kids playing football to not only learn the game, but to be “contributing citizens for the rest of their lives.”
Smyte wants his guys to contribute in the community and excel in the classroom. In his last season in 2012, his varsity team compiled a 3.3 grade-point average.
“I don’t look at this as just a football situation: There’s an academic component, there is a behavioral, there is a service component … then a football
component,” says the native Canadian. “I want kids to walk through the community with Blue Devil pride … be great representatives of the program.”
“That behavioral thing — the character-education component that we did once a month was a big thing. It made us talk about issues that were pertinent on becoming a young man. Things like treating a woman appropriately, how do you treat others in general — how can your language be viewed as offensive?
“You can’t take that stuff for granted. You have to teach that type of thing. Lead by example. When you look at the current environment out there, it is more critical than ever.”
It’s too early to talk about his coaching staff. Smyte confirms that some of Wiley’s assistants will be asked to stay. He also said fans will see some new faces.
A stipend of just over $4,200 comes with the DHS head coach’s position. Smyte will sign a variable services agreement.
Notes: Smyte and his wife Rose, a special-education instructor at Pioneer Elementary School, have two grown daughters; since selling their local home last summer they have lived in Sacramento. Smyte says he and Rose are temporarily east of the Causeway. They have plans to build soon just west of Davis. …Smyte, a one-time hockey goalie, played in a youth league against Wayne Gretzky. The 58-year-old Smyte confirms he held The Great One to fewer than five goals a game.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-320-4456.