May 21, 2024

Baxter’s Luther records 150th win

Rob Luther has been coaching football in the Baxter community since 1997.

Baxter’s football team is off to a 3-0 start. Head coach Rob Luther has only had one undefeated regular season in his 28-year coaching career, but the 2022 Bolts appear to have the squad this fall that can give him another one.

Luther recently surpassed 150 career wins. It came in last week’s victory over Melcher-Dallas. The Bolts celebrated the milestone in front of their home fans on Friday in an easy win over Woodward Academy.

“It just means I have been doing this a long time,” Luther said. “It does reflect on how many guys went through this program and the players and coaches I have built relationships with.”

Luther has coached many siblings. Will Clapper and Cole Damman were on Luther’s first 8-man squads a few years back. This year’s team features seniors Trice Clapper and Cody Damman.

And if Luther decides to coach long enough, the next Damman boy also could be on one of his high school teams.

“He’s been a big part of everything around here and has set a great culture in this community,” Cody Damman said. “He makes sure we go 100 percent each day and holds everyone accountable. He’s been great for all four of my years.”

Luther’s current coaching staff features former players, too. Ryan Travis was on his first CMB squad which won a district championship in 1997. Chad Maxwell also played for Luther during his time at CMB.

Luther’s lone undefeated squad came when he was coaching CMB in 2014.

That squad featured future Division I athletes Bryce Kemp (football at Eastern Michigan) and Brady Stover (baseball at South Dakota State) as well as Blake Coughenour, Hunter McWhirter, Nate Bishop, Clayton Weltha, Nick Littel, Charles Robertson and Archer McFadden, whose younger brother Aiden is on the current Bolts’ roster.

That Raiders squad won a postseason game and finished their historic season 10-1. In all, Luther has won about seven or eight district championships.

“Some of my best friends I have coached with,” said Luther, who spent two seasons at Woodward-Granger before coaching at CMB. “I just don’t know what else I would do on a Friday night. This has been what I’ve done for a long time. This is just what you do. I love it out here. And it’s not all about me.”

Luther became the coach at CMB in 1997 and moved over to Baxter when the two high schools broke away from their sports-sharing agreement a few years back.

His first 8-man squad went 8-1 and this year’s team looks to be well on its way to bettering that mark.

“I came to CMB to coach at my alma mater. It was a good 2A job,” said Luther, whose alma mater is Collins-Maxwell. “Then I became a principal at Baxter. I think doing administration and being a head football coach can only happen in a special place like Baxter. They trusted me to be able to do both jobs well.

“I think being in both of those positions you build trust and relationships. I tell everyone there’s something special about our town and school. There’s so much support.”

Luther has had many opportunities to leave his positions at CMB and Baxter. But none of the five or six offers he received came with the right timing.

“I just hope we are teaching the kids out here a little bit,” Luther said. “That’s what means the most to me.”

That’s the first thing Trice Clapper said when he was asked about his head football coach.

“He’s taught me some amazing lessons,” Trice Clapper said. “He’s always treated me right and he’s the best head coach I could have ever asked for.”

The 2022 Bolts’ squad hasn’t faced any tough opponents yet. Baxter is 3-0 but is not yet ranked by the Associated Press and sits 20th in the BC Moore rankings.

They are currently the third lowest ranked undefeated team in 8-man. West Central Maynard (4-0) is 23rd and Coon Rapids-Bayard is 29th.

“It’s frustrating. We want to try other things, but we just haven’t had the opportunities yet,” Luther said. “Our 2s are pretty good. They give us a good look in practice. We’re as deep as we’ve ever been in 8-man.”

Soon, the Bolts will be able to show how good they are. And hopefully Luther can rack up some more coaching wins in the process.

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