Hayes continues success of Bellwood-Antis football in picking up 200th win

If you listen to John Hayes the jovial Bellwood-Antis football coach, has had an easy ride.
The long-time Blue Devil head coach earned his 200th win last Friday night when the 2005 edition of a long-running success story took it to Mount Union early to leave no room for guessing.
Hayes has compiled a 200-72-2 record in his 26-year sting at Bellwood-Antis, so you can guess the man has had something to do with the figures, although he reflects the question about all the wins to a blessing of players and assistants. While he has been coaching longer than any other area coach with the retirements in recent years of Dave Baker at Williamsburg, and Tom Irwin at Bishop Guilfoyle, his winning percentage of 73.6 speaks loudly. Particularly when you consider there is no recruiting and you only get even the most-gifted athlete for two or three years and then face the task of rebuilding, always an tough task at a school as small as Bellwood-Antis.
John Hayes is a graduate of East Huntingdon High School, now a part of a larger jointure, where he played football, baseball and basketball, and then attended and played football at Susquehanna University, before playing line and graduating from nearby Juniata College.
Hayes was an assistant at Tyrone High School under head coaches Steve Magulick and John Schonewolf, from 1970-79. In 1980, coach Hayes was selected to take over for Jim Gardner, who had just completed three highly successful seasons-8-3 in 1977, 8-3 in 1978, and 9-2 in 1979. That was quite a task for a young man who had been an assistant at the Blue Devils biggest rival and had never coached a single game as the head coach.
“It feels good to get the 200th win,” Hayes commented on Friday night following the victory. “It doesn’t feel a whole lot different than any of the others.
“The first win, actually, a long time ago, was the one I was worried about if I’d ever get one. This is great, I’ve been so fortunate to be in a great community, a great school district and to have so many wonderful kids who have come through here. As coaches, you know, we are here, but it’s the kids who make it happen. I’ve just been very blessed and I look at the coaches and it’s been a complete team effort. I guess that I am just the recipient of the number.”
That first win in Hayes’ very first game at Bellwood-Antis, was a 14-9 win over Penns Valley. Steve Walker, the first of a long list of great Hayes’ tailbacks rushed for 128 yards, including a clutch seven-yard score midway through the fourth quarter for the win. The Blue Devil defense, another signature of John Hayes’ coaching program, secured that first victory by stopping the Rams three times inside the BA-five yard line following the Walker score.
The 50th triumph was a Bellwood-Antis 34-0 over Claysburg-Kimmel on Oct. 19, 1986. This was a team containing a lot of very talented sophomores that two years later would go 13-1, win the first of three district titles for coach Hayes and play the Blue Devils first PIAA state playoff contest.
In the 1986 game, tailback Jack Dorminy rushed for three TDs and 126 yards and the defense limited the Bulldogs to 20 yards rushing and 67 yards total offense.
Victory number 100 was particularly sweet for Bellwood-Antis-a 25-0 season-opening win against Tyrone. Another niche and a very special one in the B-A football program, Hayes acknowledged he was just happy to get the season off to a good start. Elusive tailback Comanche Garcia and power-running fullback Sean Ross scored twice each to help Hayes to reach the coveted century mark in wins. In one of their more powerful displays of defense, Tyrone was held to 53 net yards rushing, with the B-A offense outdistancing the Eagles 348-138 in total yards.
“I would like the focus to be on the team and their accomplishments,” had been a Hayes quote in an area newspaper prior to the Tyrone game. “If you look at Bellwood, this is an extremely good football town and that is where the credit belongs. They were successful before me and they’ll be successful after me.”
To get his 150th victory, coach Hayes and Bellwood-Antis had to perform a feat which four teams had a chance to do, but only the Blue Devils accomplished. In the first round of District 6-A playoffs, Bellwood-Antis played Bishop Guilfoyle. There were four matchups of teams that had played each other during the regular season. With a 27-13 win, B-A became the only one of the four to defeat a team for the second time. Bishop Guilfoyle, finished the season 8-2, with both losses to Bellwood-Antis, while the Blue Devils moved on, eventually dropping the title game to Bishop Carroll.
Once again, the B-A defense had a huge hand in the triumph, holding BG’s tailback to less than half the total he rushed for in the regular season game, a 27-16 B-A win and pulling in three interceptions, returning two for touchdowns late in the game. The runningback duo of tailback Matt Garner (108) and fullback Dave Miller (91) totaled just short of 200 yards on the ground to keep the BG offense off the field. Joel Focht scored the first TD of the game on a pass from Travis Martin, and the final TD on the Blue Devils’ second interception return for a score.
During Hayes tenure at Bellwood-Antis, the Blue Devils have won seven or more games 18 years and have had just two losing records, 4-6 in 1981, and 4-6 in 1995. B-A has reached the district championship game nine times (1985-88-93-94-97-99-2000-01-04), winning the title in 1988, 1997 and 2004.
When approached, coach Hayes, who doubles as the Athletic Director at Bellwood-Antis, is always courteous and willing to take time out of a busy schedule that includes teaching and Athletic Director at Bellwood-Antis. In fact coach Hayes usually answers several questions in that first response that you probably would have asked him next, in his zeal to explain what makes himself and his team tick.
Like the Eveready bunny, John Hayes isn’t ready to stop yet. Much like another long-time coach and college football super hero Joe Paterno, John Hayes eats and sleeps football. Neither are quite done yet. To paraphrase my favorite poet, Robert Frost-for John Hayes-there are still miles to go, kids to coach and games to win.