Heyde earns 200th coaching victory

By BILL MILLIGAN

After a 26-year career filled with highlights, Mehlville Senior High School head football coach Gary Heyde marked another milestone Friday night when his Panthers defeated Northwest of House Springs 48-7 to clinch another district championship and notched the coach’s 200th career win.

“It takes a long time to win 200 football games,” Heyde said after the game. “I guess I’ve been coaching here a long time.”

Uneasy with all the attention, Heyde kept diverting the attention to his players, both past and present, who kept up a steady stream of congratulatory handshakes and compliments as the interview took place.

The affection began seconds after the scoreboard toned the end of the regular season and the beginning of another round of Mehlville playoff football.

As the announcer began to explain the coaching milestone to the players and fans who stuck around for the postgame ceremony, the crowd began a spontaneous chant of “Gary, Gary, Gary” which eventually made it impossible to hear the announcer’s words.

“There are no communities in this area, so here we identify with the schools,” said former defensive coordinator and longtime friend Mike Mooney. “Every school has a sense of community and at Mehlville the community revolves around football.

“Gary Heyde will downplay his role and tell you it’s all about the kids, but he has helped give us all our sense of community.”

Heyde ranks 26th all-time among Missouri high school football coaches and of the 25 ahead of him only Bill Schuchardt of Salem has won 200 games in fewer years.

But Heyde could care less about history.

Rather, he points to the number of former assistant coaches who have been successful after being part of his program — coaches like Lindbergh’s Tom Beauchamp and Oakville’s Arlee Conners.

“There’s a lot more than that,” he said. “I don’t know if they learned anything here, but they’ve gone on and been good coaches.

“It’s so important because I coach one-fourth of the football team. When we have success, I have to have three other guys getting the job done.”