Stanwood High School football coach Dave Telford resigned Monday after a complaint arose regarding a halftime speech he gave during Friday’s game against Bishop Blanchet.
Telford said that when he addressed his team, which trailed the Braves 42-0 at halftime, he used some profanity. Telford said he felt Bishop Blanchet was running up the score, with the Metro League team performing onside kicks on every kickoff and throwing the ball downfield with a significant lead.
Bishop Blanchet won the non-conference game 42-0.
“The way the game was going, it was a pretty good rout,” Telford said Wednesday. “Blanchet was getting after us. … I’m not trying to justify anything. I’m just putting context around it. At 34-0 it’s starting to get a little bit questionable. Then they score to make it 40-0 and go for two and get it. And then onside kick again up 42-0 and I was not at all happy about how the kids were being treated. I felt the kids were being put in a position to be embarrassed and be belittled.
“I talked to one of their coaches going off the field (at halftime) and told him, ‘Your program is a program I’ve respected for a long time. I can’t respect it anymore.’ He tried to play it off as, ‘There’s things we need to work on and automatic (things we try to do).’ I’m not asking you to be soft on us. I want your kids to play. But when you’re going for two and there’s already a running clock, what are you trying to do?”
After the discussion with the opposing coach, Telford went to the Stanwood locker room and was, he said, fired up.
“I started talking about what was going on in the game and when I did, I said some things with some inappropriate language,” he said. “Nothing directed at our team or our guys. It was directed toward (the decisions the Blanchet coaching staff made). As soon as I (finished talking) I apologized and said, ‘I was caught up in the moment and I love you guys and am trying to defend you guys.’ … That got back to someone, which led to a meeting on Monday. They presented me with the options and the option I chose was to resign.”
The Monday meeting featured the Stanwood High School principal, athletic director and a human resources representative, Telford said.
Telford said he regrets the way he handled the situation and has no ill feelings toward the Stanwood administration.
“I’m not bitter about any of it,” he said. “I talked to our kids and said that there are consequences to our actions. When we talked about it with the administration, I didn’t deny any of it. I didn’t say it was exaggerated. I said, ‘It happened and I’m not going to lie about it. I’m sorry. And I apologized to the kids about it.’”
Telford met with the Spartans after school on Monday to explain his departure. He will continue to teach math at Stanwood. Offensive coordinator Eric Keizer will assume the head-coaching duties.
“I explained to them what had happened and apologized to them,” Telford said. “At our game the week before, there was a series of personal fouls … and our kids did an awesome job of not getting caught up in it. They did a good job of divorcing themselves from the emotion. They did a better job than I did at that. We put in this code of conduct and said if you as players can’t hold yourself up to it, than you are not going to be able to be a part of this program. And the same applies to me.”
Telford said he and Bishop Blanchet head coach Kyle Moore shook hands after Friday’s game and wished each other a good season. On Saturday, Telford exchanged e-mails with Moore to express his displeasure and Telford said the two had a good conversation.
“I still have issue with how it happened during the game, but he and I talked and we’re on good-enough terms,” Telford said. “I don’t hold a grudge. It still bothers me how the game unfolded but I don’t hold a grudge against him. And I’m not looking to throw his name or his program under the bus. … They pride themselves on being able to get an onside kick recovered every game and they couldn’t get one so they kept trying. I said, ‘At a certain point you’ve got to give up on checking that box’ and he agreed.
“I still don’t appreciate how it went down,” Telford continued, “but he and I worked it out like reasonable people.”
Telford, the son of former Spartans coach Phil Telford, played at Stanwood and graduated in 1984. Dave Telford returned to the Spartans in 2013 to lead his alma mater and went 6-16 as the Spartans’ head coach, including a 1-2 mark this season.
Telford started his coaching career at Fresno State, where he played quarterback, and became an assistant at Stanwood in 2005. Two years later, he moved to Havelock High School in North Carolina to serve as an assistant coach before returning to Washington in 2008 to become the head coach at Monroe.
Telford spent three seasons with the Bearcats and then resigned in 2010 to become an assistant coach at Indiana State University before returning to Stanwood prior to the 2013 season.
Telford said he’s unsure what the future holds for him but he “loves football and I love coaching kids.”
“It’s not the only time I’ve ever used an inappropriate word around the kids. At times, that’s unfortunately going to happen,” Telford said. “… But there was absolutely nothing — and I made sure our team knew that — nothing directed at them as a group or directed at any one of them as an individual. It was an interjection put in the middle of a sentence. It was a misguided way to make sure they understood how much I cared for them and that I was going to back them up in the situation.”