It's no mystery Bellingham High's football program needed a makeover after a winless season last fall ended with fewer than 30 players turning out for late-season games.
Red Raiders Athletic Director Chad Larsen feels Bellingham has found the right coach to make the program competitive again, as he announced the hiring of former Squalicum assistant football coach Ted Flint in a press release Friday morning, May 16.
"Ted had a wealth of knowledge and experience at the high school level in football and a lot with football in our area," Larsen said in a phone interview. "He's well known in our community and is greatly respected for his knowledge and his teaching capacity. We feel like he's going to be a great addition to our teaching staff and coaching staff."
Flint's coaching background is vast and impressive, but in regard to the state of Bellingham football, one of the most intriguing aspects of Flint's hire is he's already had a hand in turning around a football program.
After leading Sehome to a Class 4A Wesco co-championship during the 1998-99 season, Flint took over struggling Wenatchee-based Eastmont High School in 2000 and used his four years there to turn the program into a playoff team who hadn't reached the postseason in 14 years.
"When I got the job at Eastmont, they were in a similar situation, 20 kids on the roster the year before and were struggling to win games and hadn't been to the playoffs forever," Flint explained in a phone interview. "I said we're going to be positive and organized, and we taught them football well."
During his final season, 80 kids were on the team, Flint said.
Larsen provided several reasons why hiring Flint was the best choice. Most notable were his knowledge of the game and track record of success. Flint coached Sehome's track and field team for 10 years and also coached Squalicum's track and field team for three years. He's won numerous Coach of the Year awards along the way.
Larsen said he met with parents and players to help him and his hiring committee makes the best informed decision possible.
His committee included players, parents, former coaches and administration.
"We had people from every angle you could imagine," Larsen said. "When we came to the table and talked about what Bellingham needed, we all had to time reflect and articulate what we felt was needed. We went through the process and arrived at a decision everyone felt 100 percent comfortable with, and we feel really excited about the future."
With last year's low turnout, Flint knows getting players excited about football is a main objective, and he has a plan for doing that.
"I'm excited. I'm looking forward to the challenge," Flint said. "We need to first work on trying to get kids back out, and we just have to stay positive and be enthusiastic and be organized and show them we know what we are doing and do a good job of coaching football."
The coaching staff around Flint will play a large role in fostering a positive environment, the new coach said.
When asking Larsen his expectations for the program moving forward, he said he'd let the coaching staff and players define success, but he made clear that putting together a competitive teams is paramount.
"We need to compete, and I think if you do the right things, winning will be a byproduct," Larsen said. "I believe that."
In a move that might expedite the Red Raiders' success, Bellingham will be going independent and playing a non-tradition Northwest Conference schedule the next two seasons.
Larsen said Bellingham will keep its rivalry games with Sehome and Squalicum. It'll also play Lynden Christian and 3A school Highline. The rest of the Red Raiders' opponents will range from 3A to 2B classification teams.
In addition to the football team, Flint will be teaching a few physical education classes at Bellingham before moving to a full-time position later on, Larsen said.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for Whatcom County sports updates.
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.