Jeremy Gaston/Herald-Chronicle
SFT Head Coach Jayson Duncan presents Bob Von Stein with a
T-shirt and plaque at Friday’s dedication ceremony.

Jeremy Gaston | Sports Editor

Just nine years after he stepped off for the final time as head coach of the Santa Fe Trail Chargers football team, Bob Von Stein was called to the field he coached on for 25 years and honored with its dedication in his name.

Prior to Friday night’s football game, the former coach was presented by first-year head coach Jayson Duncan, a former player and understudy of Von Stein.

“That was an extreme honor,” Duncan said. “When they asked me to do that, I was excited. He’s a guy I respect a lot. After my grandparents and dad, he’s the next on the list.”

The presentation was preceded by the placement of an engraved stone sign at the entrance to the field before the start of the school year. For Von Stein, the reunion, in many ways, outweighed the honor.

“It was nice that everyone came back. It was good to see a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time,” Von Stein said. “It was a ‘take your breath away moment.’”

Dozens of former players had joined Von Stein on the field as he was presented Friday night.

“It’s nice to see people going on and being successful and raising families,” Von Stein said. “I think it was good for the people that came back to see each other as well.”

Von Stein still isn’t big on the limelight of the experience, but the teams he coached drew plenty of attention. He began his career in Olpe in the fall of 1968, and spent two years as an assistant coach before taking over the Eagles program. As head coach of the team, he carried a 58-11 record through seven seasons with three playoff appearances, including a runner-up finish in 1975.

Von Stein began his career at SFT in 1977. He started over with a 1-8 season, turning around the record to an 8-1 finish in 1980 and a state championship appearance the following year. His teams made nine more playoff appearances over the next 20 years.

Von Stein retired after 25 seasons, following the 2001-02 school year. At that time, he’d amassed a 173-71 record at SFT, and a 231-82 record as a head coach.

“He’s done a lot, not just for SFT football, but for the SFT community,” Duncan said.

At the April 26 USD 434 Board of Education meeting, the district approved designation of SFTHS football field as Coach Von Stein Field, and signage to reflect the designation.

Patrick Graham, athletic director at SFTHS, indicated the designation had been talked about for several years, and that they wanted to do it sooner, rather than later.

“We knew we wanted to do something when he would be available to participate,” Graham said. “He was very humbled.”

The presentation was followed by a lackluster performance on the field, as the Chargers picked up their 30th-straight loss, but both Duncan and Von Stein remain positive about the future of football at SFT.

“After the game, he gave me his lucky sweatshirt,” Duncan said. “Maybe that’ll have a little luck for us, maybe put us over the top.”

Duncan regularly turns to Von Stein for advice with the team.

“He just wants to see SFT be successful,” Duncan said. “Just get back to his every day stuff. He’s not a showman, he’s just an old coach, and was very good at what he did.

“I think anytime you name the field after someone, they’ve got to be pretty special,” Duncan said.