Bellevue High’s Butch Goncharoff and Royal High’s Wiley Allred don’t know each other. They have never met or even chatted about football.
But they share one thing in common: unparalleled coaching success at their respective levels of Washington high school football.
And they happen to be accomplishing great things all at the same time. In Goncharoff’s 13 seasons, the Wolverines have captured 10 Gridiron Classic state titles at the Class 3A level. And in Allred’s 14 seasons, Royal has won four 1A championships.
Goncharoff’s teams have won at a 92.9 percent clip (158-12), far and away the best winning percentage in state history. Allred’s 88.8 winning percentage (158-20) is second all-time for coaches with at least 150 career games.
And heading into the start of this season, both have the same number of total coaching wins – 158 – which is tied for 53rd all-time behind leader Sid Otton (346), now starting his 40th season at Tumwater.
Very similar, yet very different.
Goncharoff, a 1982 Interlake graduate, did not play football in high school. An owner of a local custom T-shirt company, he coached youth football in Bellevue for years before being hired as an assistant by then-coach Bill Heglar in 1995.
In 2000, Goncharoff was hired as the coach. That was the start of the state’s most prominent current high school football dynasty, which seems to be just hitting its prime.
“I knew I wanted to do something different. I knew I wanted to try (to) build a national program at a small public high school,” Goncharoff said. “I locked myself in a room for a week and wrote down everything in the world that was important to me – how we were going to dress, how we were going to practice, the type of kids we had and what kind of system we’d run.”
Goncharoff learned the principles of the wing-T offense from longtime Wolverines coaching staff members Neil Buckmaster and Pat Jones, who were around during the days former Bellevue coach Dwaine Hatch ran it.
“When Dwaine Hatch was here, he got it right. He knew the school. He knew the system,” Goncharoff said. “I am a big fan of zone offense and love studying it, but we don’t have five guys on the offensive line who are 6-5, 280 that can play that way. The angles and trapping (of the wing-T), and the ability to keep teams off the field and be competitive – they were ahead of their time.”
Bellevue quickly rose to become a state powerhouse in Goncharoff’s first four seasons.
Then a stunning 39-20 victory by the Wolverines over De La Salle High (Calif.) to start the 2004 season – ending the Spartans’ national-record 151-game winning streak – thrust Bellevue into national recognition.
Now thoroughly scouted everywhere, Bellevue has had to adjust to stay ahead of the competition. Goncharoff and his staff have visited Oregon, UCLA, Utah and West Virginia to study the those teams’ passing game and learn how it should be incorporated into the Wolverines’ offense.
“Oregon is very wing-T oriented, and it fit what we did, not just passing-wise but running-wise,” Goncharoff said.
By staying one beat ahead of everybody, the Wolverines have won the past five 3A state titles.
Like Goncharoff, Allred’s biggest football-related influence came from the school he now coaches. In his case, it was former Royal coach Bob Nielsen, the school’s career wins leader with 179 in 26 seasons.
Allred played safety for Nielson before graduating in 1978, then went on to Walla Walla Community College and Washington State University. He returned to become a defensive coordinator under Nielson.
Nielson retired, and Allred – already established as a local alfalfa, potatoes, peas and corn farmer – took over the program in 1999.
“(Nielson) had established a premier program already but I wasn’t going to do it the same way,” Allred said.
He moved to offense, and immediately began installing more of a spread-the-field passing game for the Knights.
“I felt like I had a pretty good idea,” Allred said, “of what was difficult to defend.”
Allred is always astute at analyzing his team’s personnel and featuring his best athletes. For the past few seasons, that featured athlete was quarterback Alex Myrick, so the coach was not hesitant to dabble in some zone-read stuff.
“We are proud. The kids have bought in and gotten excited. If you don’t do that, you don’t have a program,” Allred said.
“It is the expectation to be successful every year, and that has happened. We just try to get the most out of it.”email@example.com blog.thenewstribune.com/preps @ManyHatsMilles