The coach of Barlow Highs 2001 runner-up baseball team, continues coaching at Class 4A South Umpqua

by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - After spending 10 years at Barlow High as a baseball and football coach, Steve Stebbins finds himself as the head football coach at 4A South Umpqua this fall.  Steve Stebbins had no intention of joining the Twitter generation, but at 46 years old that wall cracked and he sent his first Tweet. It started as a way to communicate summer workouts to his football team at South Umpqua High near Roseburg, but quickly evolved into much more.

“I thought I’d give it a shot and it didn’t take long for all these kids from Barlow to find me,” Stebbins said.

It had been nearly a decade since he had roamed the fields at Barlow High, but the popular coach was far from forgotten.

Stebbins is best remembered as the coach who led the Bruins baseball team to the big-school state championship game in 2001 — the last time an East County team has played for the big prize.

After finishing the regular season with a 15-9 record, Barlow reeled off four straight playoff wins before facing Lakeridge for the title. The season ended with a 9-0 loss, but the wins leading up to the finale created some special moments.

“There are a lot of memories from that group, and (Mike) Ekstrom was a pretty good number one pitcher to send out to the mound,” Stebbins said.

Stebbins spent 10 years at Barlow before moving on to Hudson’s Bay for five, and he is now entering his third year at South Umpqua where he became head coach for the football team after serving as offensive coordinator the last two seasons.

The Lancers are coming off a one-win season in 2012, but Stebbins remains optimistic.

“The football program here has a long history and we have a shot to be a pretty good team,” Stebbins said. “The kids are excited to do some new things. It’s going to be a challenge, but it’s going to be really fun.”

Stebbins made the move south to be closer to his wife’s family and their two grandchildren. The weather also made it an easy decision for the baseball coach, who didn’t have a single rainout in any of his 25 jayvee games this past spring.

“It’s sunshine all the time — and the pace is a little slower. There are no hurries. I need to get my golf game going and do a little fly fishing,” he said. “I just enjoy coaching the kids and watching them grow. This is my fourth high school and everywhere you go being involved with kids keeps you young.”

His father Dale remains active in baseball, as well. The longtime Mt. Hood CC manager is now a volunteer assistant with the Portland Pilots.

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