Initial shock followed by understanding then rounded out with an eager curiosity as to who will fill the shoes left by Dave Humphers seemed to be the general mood after Thursday’s announcement that he would be retiring as the head of Nevada Union football.
Current players, former players and coaches who have faced off against Humphers all expressed some form of surprise at the announcement but would later concede they understood the decision.
“I was very shocked,” said Bear River co-head coach Terry Logue. “Although, both his boys are graduated, and sometimes that plays into it. I know since my boys have moved on, every year is my last year.”
Sophomore running back Moe Nieves, who spent one game on the varsity team last year after being called up from junior varsity, said he was excited to play under Humphers next season.
“I was really looking forward to playing for coach Humphers,” Nieves said. “I was a little shocked to hear it. He’s a great coach and a great guy, and I was hoping he would coach for 30 years.”
Former Miner, UCLA Bruin and Green Bay Packer Spencer Havner said he was sad to see Humphers retire because of the impact he has on the young men he coaches.
“For me, it was an honor to play for (Humphers), and he taught me so much,” Havner said. “His relentless passion for life and for the game — he taught us so much more than football. I was always so proud to be a Miner.”
One of Havner’s favorite memories from his time under Humphers’ tutelage was the 9-8 victory over Grant in the pouring rain in 2000.
It’s a sentiment that Humphers shares.
When asked what are some of his favorite memories from coaching at NU, Humphers responded, “As a competitor, I always took a lot of pride out of beating Grant. We really enjoyed that rivalry.”
The man across the sidelines in those storied rivalry games, Mike Alberghini, expressed sadness and shock at the news of Humphers’ retirement.
“It’s a sad day because of what a great job he’s done up there and the success he’s brought to the program,” Alberghini said. “We’ve had so many titanic battles over the years, and it will be strange (without Humphers), but we all go that way at some point.”
As Alberghini looked back on the rivalry between NU and Grant, he said he will always cherish the vigor, respect and professionalism both teams brought to the field.
“I will always remember those weeks and all those games that built such a great rivalry,” he said. “As we grew as coaches, so did our respect for each other.”
In Humphers’ and Alberghini’s final matchup, it was Humphers who walked off the Grant field with the 37-7 victory.
Former Miner Rich Wilson said Humphers was a great mentor to him and for so many other players.
“I looked to him as a father-figure. He just really cared about all his kids and his players,” Wilson said. “It’s sad to see him go because of all the success.”
Wilson, like so many other football players, said if it wasn’t for the efforts of Humphers, his football career wouldn’t have lasted as long as it did.
Former Miner Duncan Chapple said Humphers was an instrumental part of his high school experience.
“Football was definitely the best part of my high school experience,” he said. “He really instilled that to get things done, you need to work together.”
Chapple added, “When you think NU football, it goes hand in hand with Dave, so it will definitely be weird that he’s not on the sideline.”
Now the big question that remains is who will fill the void left at the top of NU football?
“Obviously, we want to start that as soon as possible,” NU principal Mike Blake said. “And Dave’s going to help during the transition. We have our freshmen team meeting Monday night, and he’s going to help with that.
“But there’s still the question, “Who’s going to follow him?” Who’d want to follow in his footsteps in a sense? We’d like to find that quality person before school is out because there are a lot of questions parents and kids are wondering about right now — and because it’s not too far away ’til we have those Friday night lights on again.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.