By Jeremy McDonald
68 years young and roughly five-foot-six, he is roughly two-inches shorter than his shortest pupil; but Duane Riddell’s voice still booms as if he was in his 30s or 40s as the passion and fire still resides in the veteran coach.
“Hey if I didn’t have some passion and I didn’t care, I didn’t get nervous, I didn’t get scared, I wouldn’t do it, that’s basically it,” laughed Riddell about that fire and passion of coaching. “I love the game of football, I’ve always loved it and I love being around the kids and the coaches. I really love being around the kids.
“And though I’m not very young, they make me feel young at times.”
It’s no secret that the ‘Riddell’ name has a strong connection dating back to 2000 when Duane Riddell was the Head Coach until 2004, during that time his son Josh was a Scot Scholar-Athlete for McKay.
The two did butt-heads, who hasn’t in sports, but growing up in a coaches household and being coached by his father in High School has molded the more ‘youthful’ Riddell into what he is now entering his second-year as Scots Head Coach.
“Me and my dad, we like to keep it light so what we do at home, we do here, so there’s not much difference,” said Josh Riddell. “I mean when I was playing for him, there were some battles that we would have and I didn’t see eye-to-eye sometimes because I was young and I didn’t understand things to that point.
“But now that I’m older and I understand what he is about and how he treats the kids and how the kids responds to him, it’s awesome to see and I just love coaching with him and enjoying the time we spend together.””
Duane Riddell came back to ‘McK’ after a short-stint at 1A’s Perrydale where he was the Head Guy for the Pirates this past school year, but travel took a toll on his body having traveled to Lowell High School in the Eugene area, Dufur in The Dalles area along with Arlington and Sherman a little further east of The Dalles area.
Roughly 1,600 miles said Riddell traveled for three league games and a non-league game in 2016-2017 that wore him down by season’s end that he stepped down.
Fast forward a few months, he’s in his second-day of coaching offensive line at McKay High School, but admits that McKay always had a special place in his heart as one of the favorite places to coach.
“I’m extremely excited, I love the kids and the coaches . I love McKay High School,” started Riddell. “I’ve coached at some places where I really like, I’ve coached a lot of places but I love coaching at McKay. I love the kids, I love the atmosphere.
“I even love Coach LaFountain,” added Riddell laughingly as Coach LaFountain walked by after practice to a smile by LaFountain.
It’s easy to see why he loves being out on the gridiron on any given day in preparation for Friday Night.
Watching him interact with the kids, high-fiving kids and saying ‘good-jobs’ and helping making sure that the kids are being the best versions of themselves that they can be as the Scots begin on their trek for the 2017-2018 season.
“It feels pretty good, he’s pretty cool,” said Jonathan Mentado on Riddell.. “He’s telling me to get in there a lot, joining in on the O-Line and not being nervous or anything. Take as many reps and get better.”
“It makes me feel a lot more confident as a player because I know he has a lot of experience at another school and he’s been around football for a long time and I know that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to offense whether it’s technique or steps or anything like that,” adds Anthony Tenorio.
Riddell jokes that though he is relatable to the kids, he kind of half heartly-threw his hands up on learning the lingo that the new generation of players he’s coaching are saying.
“I try to keep up,” smiled Riddell through his dark sunglasses and white hat on his head. “But there is no damn way on the vocabulary but I just try to have fun and hope like heck that we can get along.
Though Riddell looks at McKay as ‘fam’, or family, it’s surely be great to see the elder Riddell on the McKay sidelines once again.