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Crater tabs Heath as new football coach

CENTRAL POINT -- Crater High picked a man to lead its program who cut his teeth on Southern Oregon Conference football and later learned the X's and O's from some of the state's most respected coaches.

Randy Heath, who played on late Medford High coach Fred Spiegelberg's final team, and later played on two national championship teams at Linfield College, was named the school's 12th head coach Tuesday.

The Central Point school board affirmed the search committee's recommendation to hire Tualatin's 32-year-old defensive coordinator at its monthly meeting.

We're going to compete every night, Heath said. Year in and year out, we want to be one of the top two or three teams in the league.

Does that mean we're going to win conference championships every year? No, that takes talent and a little bit of luck. But we can be in a position to do that when the right year comes around. I don't want highs and lows, I want to be consistent and fundamentally sound. You have to beat us, we're not going to beat ourselves.

That demeanor may have made him the choice in a field of solid applicants.

We wanted someone who could come in and do it right away, said district personnel director Randy Garvon, a member of the search committee. We think we have the kids to win right away. We're not looking two or three years down the road, we'd like to have a competitive team next year.

Heath graduated from Medford High in 1983 and knows his way around the Southern Oregon Conference.

I was fortunate that I wasn't too young to miss Spieg, Heath says. — the time I came through, others were doing most of the coaching. But his fire and his spirit, you couldn't miss it. Even in the Shrine game, the last game he coached, he still had a fire you had to respect.

Heath went from one legend to another when he played for Ad Rutschman at Linfield. I came through Linfield at a pretty prosperous time, Heath says. We lost four games in four years and won two (NAIA) titles.

He developed his work ethic at the McMinnville school.

It doesn't matter what time of day or night, there was always a coach there working on football, Heath says. Still, things were kept in perspective. It was supposed to lead to something bigger in life and it wasn't an end to everything.

He served as a graduate assistant at Linfield then assisted Ken Potter seven years at Jesuit.

I learned a ton from Ken, especially about the passing game, Heath said. He let me have more rein on defense and helped me develop as a coach.

Heath applied for the Sheldon vacancy last year that eventually went to Marty Johnson. Then Tualatin coach Craig Hastin -- who succeeded Spiegelberg at Medford -- asked Heath to join his staff.

I knew that at some point I needed to get back into public education if I wanted to be a head coach at a public school, Heath said. Craig has been a head coach for 26 or 27 years and has seen about every type of situation. I learned a lot about the running game and running the Wing T (offense). I had a chance to work with with running backs working primarily with receivers in the past.''

He's back in his old stomping grounds and inherits a talented group of juniors, who saw a great deal of varsity action under former coach Hal Rose last year.

I've wanted to become a head coach, but I didn't want to move all over the state to do it, Heath said. Southern Oregon is one of the areas, along with the Metro League, that I really respect.