Dillon’s Thomas retiring is good news, bad news

Butte Central fans have reason to be happy at this week’s news that Beaverhead County High School football coach Terry Thomas has decided to retire.

The same could be said for every team in the Class A that is tired of facing the Dillon Beavers on the football field.

Thomas’ Beavers won the Class A State title in 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2011. The Beavers were runners up to Billings Central this past season.

Thomas, 54, took over in Dillon in 1986, and he guided the Beavers to the playoffs 17 times with a record of 189-65. A lot of those wins weren’t even close. Combined with four years at Wolf Point, Thomas racked up 211 prep coaching victories in Montana high school football.

He also transformed his Dillon team from an option-based attack to one of the most prolific spread offenses in the state. Many other schools, including Butte High, tried to lure him away from Dillon over the years.

Thomas stayed in Dillon and built a true dynasty. Every boy in Dillon wants to grow up to be a Dillon Beaver because of him.

Beaverhead County High School has a lot of capable assistant coaches, and the guess here is one takes over the program and is successful for years to come.

Still, taking one of the best football coaches in the history of Montana football off the sideline has to be detrimental to any program. It just has to.

Thomas will continue to coach the Dillon boys’ basketball team.

Thomas assisted Dillon legend Craig Finberg for years before taking over the hoops program. He guided the Beavers to State titles in 2007, 2009 and 2012. During the 2006-07 school year, Thomas lead the Beavers to undefeated seasons in football and basketball.

His team is a title contender again this season despite being hit hard by graduation after last year.

It isn’t hard to fault the coach for walking away from football, though. It’s hard to even begin fathom how difficult it would be to be the head coach of both football and basketball, especially in this day and age when the sports are a year-round deal.

It’s even more difficult when you win as much as Thomas, who pretty much always ends his football season in the state championship game.

That means basketball season starts for the coach two days after the final football game.

So, basically, coach Thomas doesn’t have a day off from the first part of August until early or mid March. That would wear out even the greatest coaching minds.

In all actuality, everybody will be sad to see Thomas retire from football. Even his most fierce rivals will hate to see the Dillon sideline without him. For one,  BC coach Don Peoples Jr. would probably have liked to end his rivalry with Thomas with a victory. Now he won’t have that chance.

Montana football will definitely be lesser without Terry Thomas.

However, any sports fans happy to see Thomas leave because they don’t have to face him on the football field anymore shouldn’t celebrate too much.

Now, Thomas can focus on basketball 365 days a year.

That is a scary thought.