Lots of laughs, a few tears and plenty of old football war stories were spilled at the 50-yard line of Hooper Stadium Friday in honor of legendary high school football coach Dave Humphers.
“Our community is a special place,” Humphers said when addressing the close to 200 in attendance. “It is and always is about the people — the people who give and give back and give again. I have been blessed to be a coach and a teacher here. It’s a special place because of the people.”
Current players, former players, family, friends and fans of the program all came to honor and roast the famed coach — fittingly under the lights on a Friday night.
Some presenters mimicked Humphers’ slow and deliberate way of speaking, others told stories of him from the early years, former players ribbed him over past practice mishaps, but all the good-natured teasing and trips down memory lane came from a place of love.
Humphers’ high school coach, Gerry Kundert, spoke of how Humphers was a 155-pound guard at Mira Loma and the beginning of the wing-T offense in California.
Randy Blankenship, who brought Humphers with him as an assistant from Mira Loma to Nevada Union in the ’80s, spoke of how much Humphers has meant to him over the years and reminded everyone in Nevada County they owed him a debt of gratitude.
“Hello, I’m Randy Blankenship, and I’m the reason Dave Humphers came to Nevada Union,” he said, which garnered a big ovation.
Doreen Humphers, Dave’s wife, would later retort, “Randy, you may be the reason he came to Nevada Union, but I’m the reason he stayed” — also to a large ovation.
Blankenship also shared that Dave Humphers was being wooed by Placer around the time he left for Clovis West, but Humphers decided to stay at NU.
Current Placer head football coach Joey Montoya, who was an assistant for Humphers from 1999 to 2002, shared the impact Humphers had on him as an aspiring head coach.
“I’m the man I am because of three people,” he said, “my grandfather, my father and coach Humphers. I wouldn’t be where I am today without coach Humphers.”
Former NU Miner and California Golden Bear Matt Beck gave a top 10 Humpherisms. Citing the repetitive nature of speaking Humphers had during practice. No. 1 on the list was “you owe.”
Former player Brian Dwyer expressed gratitude for all the things Humphers taught him, including how to exploit your team for free labor, citing when he and his teammates helped Humphers move to a new home.
Longtime Miner statistician Andy Owens spoke of times when Humphers’ character as a community leader shined through, referencing an auto accident that took two football players’ lives and how Humphers handled that and the death of Adam Strain, who died serving his country.
Others to roast and honor Humphers were longtime friend and assistant coach Geno Stephens, Bob Luke, Grass Valley Mayor Dan Miller, Granite Bay coach Ernie Cooper, longtime friend Chris Owens and NU athletic director Steve Pilcher.
“So many kids have benefited from what he has done,” Pilcher said. “I think that’s his legacy. What he’s done and the relationships he’s had with the kids, he’s probably saved so many lives, and that’s what is important to me.”
Humphers, who entered through a tunnel of current players and cheerleaders, sat on an elevated platform with his wife during the event and kept his speech short, thanking his wife and his daughter for their patience with him throughout the years and expressing his love for the community and all the players who have come through his system.
“I couldn’t have done the crazy job that this job is sometimes without family,” Humphers said.
Humphers was presented with a plaque and his iconic blue fisherman’s cap encased in glass. Presenting the items of commemoration were longtime team mom Tammy Noxon and longtime friend Mike Bratton, both of whom organized the event and each of whom has had three sons coached by Humphers.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.