Coaches clinic conducted in memory of a Miles City legend

The Second Annual Dan Stanton Memorial Coaches Clinic is slated for March 17-18 at the Sleep Inn in Miles City. Hosted by Dickinson State University football, the clinic rotates each year between Dickinson, North Dakota, and Miles City.

Stanton spent 24 years teaching and coaching in Miles City and compiled an 84-30 record in 12 years as head coach of the Custer County District High School football team. His only losing season — 2007 — came when he missed most of the season after being diagnosed with brain cancer. The Cowboys rallied, taking the state championship in 2008 and 2010, and he was named MCA Coach of the Year both of those seasons.

Stanton lost his battle with cancer in September 2015. The “Stanton Strong” logo can be seen throughout the community, and it is in his honor that the clinic, organized in part by his brother, DSU head football coach Pete Stanton, is held each year.

“Dan really loved coaching and being around coaches,” said Cowboys head football coach Jeff Regan, “so we thought this would be a really good thing to do to honor him.”

Regan estimates that more than 90 coaches attended last years’ clinic in Dickinson, and hopes to have more than that this year.

The target audience includes coaches from North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The majority who attend are high school coaches, but junior high coaches hoping to create a solid developmental program attend, too.

“The idea is to cover every aspect [of coaching]: fundamentals, offense, defense, leadership. We’re trying to cover our bases so everyone gets something,” Regan said.

In addition to offensive and defensive line coaches from the University of Montana and Montana State University, the clinic is hosting Rod Carey, the 36-19 coach of the Northern Illinois University Huskies, and Mark Banker, former defensive coordinator for Nebraska, Oregon State Beavers and the San Diego Chargers.

Jace Schillinger will represent DSU along with Pete Stanton, while Jace’s brother Shann Schillinger, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons and Tennessee Titans, represents the University of Montana. The Schillinger brothers’ connections in the fraternity of football coaches were instrumental in landing many of the clinic’s presenters.

A handful of local coaches will add their expertise, including former Miles Citian Travis Rauh, who is the head football coach in Townsend, MT, who will be discussing quarterback fundamentals. Also on the roster is John Tooke of Custer County High School, who’s up-to-date on the safety of tackling and reducing the instances of concussions. 

Mark Samson of Great Falls High, T. J. Umemoto of Billings Senior, Matt Hollowell of Billings West, and Rod Breitbach of Bismarck Century round out the high school coaches’ roster.

A Legends Panel made up of Montana and North Dakota coaches with a combined 824 wins and 22 state championships will close out the clinic. Malta’s Scott King, Sidney’s Mike Gear and Bismarck’s Mark Gibson will join former Custer County District High’s boss Ed Rohloff on the panel.

“I’m really excited to have Coach Rohloff [on the panel],” said Regan. “He put modern-day Cowboy football on the map.” Rohloff hung up his whistle in 2003, opening the door for Stanton in 2004.

Regan said he is thrilled to have the variety, experience, and quality of coaches coming to lecture. “It’s amazing that we’re getting a guy who coached in the Orange Bowl [Carey]. We’re getting a coach that led the defensive line of the San Diego Chargers and the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Oregon State,” he said. “It’s just a well-rounded group, and it says a lot that they are willing to come here.”

Live and silent auctions will be held featuring University of Montana and Montana State football tickets, golf packages, and team-issued gear from Buffalo Bills kicker Dan Carpenter, who hails from Helena.

Regan coached with Stanton, and said the clinic helps solidify his coaching — and personal – legacy.

“Thanks to Dan’s brothers and Kim, Kasey, and Kyle Stanton and the rest of his family for giving us the blessing to do this, and his brothers for helping with the organization of the clinic,” he said. “It’s awesome. It helps our coaches get better, but it’s good for Miles City to bring people here and put their [auction] donations back into our local community. It’s a good way to remember him, because that’s who he was.”