Gielczyk: Suttle Looks to Continue Boyne City’s Winning Tradition

The task ahead is a daunting one for new Boyne City varsity football coach Dave Suttle, a 2000 graduate and former player, and he knows it. The Ramblers have had a lot of success on the gridiron under former coach Dave Hills.

Suttle is not lacking in confidence, though, built up over nine years as an offensive coordinator for the junior varsity team, and two two more as an offensive assistant for Hills.

“Dave Hills always gave me full reign,” Suttle said. “We did a lot of game planning and stuff together, and I was always able to go through and create my own offense, be my own person and plan of attack and stuff as a junior varsity coach.

“Picking up points from him over the years, we’ve kind of been an offensive team for quite awhile. That experience is irreplaceable. That was probably one of the greatest things, is being able to learn from him.

“(He) was such a great teacher, not just a coach. He was a teacher and a friend. It’s been very helpful.”

Boyne City’s great success over the years, making the playoffs 14 times and winning two regional titles as well three Northern Michigan Football League Legends championships, brings with it high expectations on an annual basis.

Last year’s slip to 3-6 is looked at as a just a temporary blip, and the team will resume its winning ways next season. The Ramblers will be expected to continue as a conference contender, and return to the playoffs.

The Ramblers’ fan base has been spoiled.

“I really don’t know any different myself,” Suttle says. “We start every year the same way, with anticipation that during the off-season that our kids are going to work harder than anyone else.

“We get started in our summer program, and when the season starts, our community, our kids, our coaches … everybody expects that we’re going to be competing for titles. It’s kind of built into our fabric now.”

Suttle coached defensive backs and running backs the last three years in addition to helping with game planning.

He says he’ll be heavily involved with the defensive coaches. While everyone coaches together as a team, Suttle emphasizes that ultimately in the end the product that’s put on the field is the head coach’s responsibility.

“I’m very well rounded in our system,” Suttle said. “Our defensive philosophy will come directly from me. Clearly, I won’t be making the calls.

“Mike McShane will be my defensive coordinator this year. He’ll do a good job. In the end, as a head coach you better know both sides of it, or you’re not going to he a head coach for very long.

“I have more confidence in my staff than I would anybody else’s, and I trust them 100 percent in anything that they want to do.”

The Rambers’ philosophy is adaptable to their personnel, Suttle says, and the defense is very fluid. It can be very multiple. But it’s based around being gap sound, extremely fast and physical to the ball.

Offensively, it’s basically the same thing.

“We don’t have a lot of 300-pound offensive linemen running around Boyne City,” Suttle said. “We don’t have a lot of 6-foot-5 quarterbacks.

“But, what we do have is a lot of kids that work real hard. Every year they’re different. We’ll have the same look, but we’ll be a completely different team this year than we were last year, or in 2014 or probably what we’ll be in 2020.”

Suttle’s core philosophy on offense is pretty basic.

“We have to be smart, we have to physical and we have to be able to run our base offense,” the coach said. “Our base offense can look a lot of different ways.

“I can run any of my running plays out of a spread formation, a double tight end formation, three backs … I can do all that. If we can’t do our simple, base stuff, we’re going to struggle.

“We spend a tremendous amount of time just on basic stuff. We’ll probably definitely be known as a run first offense. We’ll have a heavy dose of running.

“But, you also need to stay balanced, so we’ll take some shots and big plays are fun, too. The kids, and the fans like that stuff, too. We’ll have plenty of those in there.”

It’s all about giving the kids the best experience they can possibly have, and about the community having a great experience every Friday night. It might not always bring about a win, but the Ramblers expect to be competitive night in and night out.

Suttle says the Ramblers run a fairly complex  high school defense. But the principles are the same.

“We’re going to be in our gaps. We’re going to know what we’re doing,” Suttle said. “We’re going to play as fast as we possibly can, and we’re going to grind you out, not work you out.

“That’s kind of where our mindset is every time we take the field defensively. Traditionally, we’ve had a pretty stout defense. I don’t that anticipate that changing anytime soon, either.”

While there is expected to be some solid senior leadership, Suttle added that the Ramblers will need to have some of the younger kids step  up and fill in some big holes left by graduation.

Suttle truly believes the Ramblers have the talent and experience. All the intangibles needed to have a successful season. It’s just a matter of putting them all together.

Only time will tell just how good the Ramblers will be, and how far they can go.

If the players trust in each other, and trust in the system, the rest will take care of itself Suttle says.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at for story ideas. 

Categories: Football