The Buzz on Sports
by: Staff, New Sandy head football coach Ray Baker

Sandy High School may have gotten it right after all.

The search for a new head football coach is over at Sandy as Ray Baker has been named to the position.

Well, what can I say except…congratulations Sandy; it looks like you got it right.

The line to give me my lumps and say you told me so starts to the right.

I said in the past that the firing of former coach Todd Quinsey might have been a mistake after only two seasons in charge. I thought that the school was setting up any new hire for failure and winning would be tough at Sandy for the near future.

Coach Baker will take over a team that has won six Mount Hood Conference games in the past four seasons and nine overall.

Baker, 61, went 2-7 at 5A Cleveland High School of the PIL conference last season, with those two wins in league. Cleveland just missed making the playoffs, even though he had no returning starters.

Before that he spent seven years at Clackamas High School were he went 57-21. He won three league titles and made the state semifinals twice in that time.

Clackamas was 11-27 the previous four years prior to Baker coaching there.

Baker is a combined 126-95 in his coaching career at eight different high schools.

After talking to Baker recently for an extended time, I have to say I think that Sandy has made the perfect hiring.

Even if you are not a Sandy fan, you may find yourself rooting for coach Baker. His arrival is a perfect fit, an old school coach for an old school-school.

'I like the potential of having a new school, new facilities and a growing spirit in both the hallways and the community,' Baker said. 'For me and my family, Sandy is a perfect fit right now.'

After a four-decade career that's seen success at just about every place he has coached (eight high schools and four colleges), he's not too concerned about implementing a new system at Sandy.

'I really haven't even thought about that yet,' Baker said. 'I guess I should meet my team and then I'll figure out what to run.'

He has run what he has called his 'razzle-dazzle' offense with a wide-open offense in the past and old-fashioned '52-slant' defense, but he is not sure yet.

'I'm in the process of getting a staff, then I'll worry about all that.'

When Baker was hired at Cleveland a little over one year ago, he said that it was probably his last coaching job.

Whoops, I asked him about that and wondered how long he would be Sandy's coach.

'That's a good question, you've done your homework,' he said. 'I did plan to end my career at Cleveland, but I found out that about the time you say something, it doesn't always work out.'

Baker said he has no timetable on his tenure at Sandy and wants to help build for the future.

'Athletics can unify a school and a community and I want to make a program that kids are glad to come back and say they were from here.'

Too me it seems that he has the same understanding as the student athletes at Sandy. Build character, then winning will follow.

'Football is a numbers game, that's the biggest challenge. We need to come in and convince kids that they will get the chance to play and not stand around and watch. Kids want immediate rewards.'

A year ago, when he was hired at Cleveland, baker said the following.

'I need football, football doesn't need me. I'm a neat-freak and not many people will come across a coach like me.'

Not many people will, as Baker appears to be a throwback that has been coaching long enough to see the big picture. He understands that wins are excellent but the impact on his athletes lasts longer than four quarters.

'We are going to start from square one and the athletes, parents, coaches and administration all need to be unified in our job. Every coach wants to win and go to the playoffs, but if I can build character, I will make better kids for the future.'

I said in the past that Sandy may be setting its new coach up for failure, but with the hiring of Ray Baker Sandy may have set itself up for great success.

Everyone in the community should prepare for excitement this football season, the Pioneers have hired a great coach and teacher to lead the program.

Only time will tell, but I can admit when I was wrong.

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