NEAH BAY — Neah Bay football and girls basketball coach Tony McCaulley has stepped down after a decade of dominance with the Red Devils.
McCaulley went 105-20 (.840) as football coach, winning four Class 1B state football championships with Neah Bay, the first-ever state team title in any sport in school history coming in 2011, with more championships coming in 2013, 2014 and 2016.
The Red Devils also finished second in 2012 and made three other state semifinal appearances.
As girls basketball coach McCaulley was 96-23 (.806) with four state tournament trips in five seasons, including two fifth-place finishes (2015 and 2018) and a sixth-place trophy in 2014.
McCaulley had contemplated giving up one or both of the positions in recent seasons due to the demands associated with coaching and the time it took away from his family and timber business.
He was honored for his accomplishments at Neah Bay’s annual athletic awards ceremony earlier this month.
“Just that its been a good run and I’ve enjoyed it,” McCaulley said. “And that it’s more about the kids than me. “We had a lot of good kids come through the program and I got lots of help along the way. I got into it right before my kids got in [to high school], so I was happy to coach my kids and all the rest of them are like my kids now.”
The Clallam Bay graduate was honored with a plaque recognizing his “10 Years of Excellence” to Neah Bay High School athletics by Red Devils athletic director Michael Brunstad.
The plaque reads “In sincere gratitude for the compassion, guidance and outstanding leadership you’ve provided to the Neah Bay high school football and girls basketball programs. Neah Bay students and staff, Cape Flattery School District and the Makah community appreciates your commitment and service. Thank You. After climbing the mountain, you can finally enjoy the view.”
A proud Bruins football and basketball player back in high school, McCaulley laughed when asked if he had ever envisioned coaching rival Neah Bay to four state football trophies.
“Not really, no,” McCaulley said. “And I’d coached at Clallam Bay [under Andy Ritter] and coached in a state championship game (1993). Dan Greene talked me into coaching Little League football at Neah Bay, so we have him to blame for this. He talked me into youth football and he talked me into taking the high school job when it came open.”
McCaulley said former Neah Bay Principal Ann Renker was a prime factor in the rise of academics and athletics at the school during his time as coach.
“It was a really great time and I really have to mention the reason we were so successful in both football and basketball was Ann Renker,” McCaulley said. “The emphasis and importance of academics just went crazy when Ann was there. She wasn’t really a sports person when she first took over. I coached her son in football and every Sunday during football season I would meet with Ann, sit down and talk with her, and she finally came around to seeing how sports and academics could go hand-in-hand.
“The kids were so much easier to coach after they had spent all day picking up so many things in the classroom. We had smart kids when she was here and it really was a good thing for our school and our community.”
Neah Bay has sent countless former athletes off to state universities and colleges in recent years, including Cameron Buzzell, a star on the 2016 football team, who earned an academic scholarship to Stanford and walked on to the Cardinal football team in 2017.
“We had other guys besides Cam who were just as good athletically but he worked harder than anybody I ever had,” McCaulley said. “He wouldn’t take no for answer and would never quit in trying to get there, to get to play Division-I football.
“So anybody can do it if you put your mind to it, that’s the message that Cameron brings to the school. That if you want something bad enough you can get it if you work as hard as you can. And that’s just him, that’s why he is where he is. “
John Reamer, who stripped Liberty Christian’s John Lesser of the ball and returned the fumble 91 yards for a crucial touchdown in Neah Bay’s 2014 state championship victory, said he valued McCaulley’s honesty.
“I appreciated the fact that I knew Tony would always give it to me how it was, whether I liked that or not,” Reamer said.“And he always did his best to keep his star players level headed, so that it always remained about the team first and winning championships.”
Reamer said McCaulley’s importance wasn’t felt solely on the football field or basketball court.
“He was always more than a coach to all of us, he was a father figure for those kids that needed one at the time,” Reamer said. “I think his teams were successful because he would always ask what the goal was and let the team decide what it was. And when we decided it was winning championships he did his best to push us to our limits so that we could achieve what we set out to.”
Neah Bay athletics statistician Bud Denney has kept stats for the Red Devils for decades. Denney said McCaulley always was prepared.
“He did a lot of scouting opponents when the playoffs came around,” Denney said. “We played a game at Odessa Harrington Friday night and he arranged a plane flight with Dan Greene to get home for a JV Football game Saturday. He’d go east of the mountains to scout a team then get back to coach our team; or coach a game then head east to scout.”
McCaulley thanked his wife Lauri, his assistant coaches and other supporters.
“She’s a big part of everything we did, my wife,” McCaulley said. “All the hours that go into it, she helped with everything. With kids, with parents, with fundraising. TJ Greene was a big part of our success and Frank Corpuz, Eric Johnson Jr. and [Eric Johnson] Sr. John Brunk, My son Tyler, lots of people. Carol Reamer, John’s mom was a real big supporter with our fundraising. There’s so many people I can’t name them all.
“When I took over we had no money and like seven helmets, so I’m hoping the program is a little better off.”
McCaulley said he has plans for all his new-found time. His daughter Gina, a 2018 Neah Bay graduate, will play basketball for the Peninsula College women this winter.
“I’ll be watching Gina play,” McCaulley said. “Hopefully, I will be able to do a little hunting with my buddies and I’ve had to put my work on the back burner during football and basketball season, so I’ll be working. And spending time my family, maybe get to go on some of those Hawaii trips that they go on that I never got to go on because of football.”
Denney appreciated McCaulley’s dedication to Neah Bay’s youth.
“He invested so much of himself into coaching at the expense of his business, investing so much time and energy into our kids,” Denney said. “I saw him as a down to Earth kinda guy. Giving credit to the kids in success but claiming responsibility for being ‘out coached’ in losses. He was a natural football coach, getting the best out of our athletes on the field and court. Tony was steady, focused and dedicated to both programs he led. For a man who grew up wearing Bruins gold and black, he bled Neah Bay red for all he was worth.”