Affholter leaving Ellensburg football for Kennewick
Coach Takes Over For Outgoing Templeton
The architect of Ellensburg’s CWAC dynasty will be leaving for Kennewick in search of a new challenge.
Randy Affholter confirmed Thursday’s he’s stepping down as the Bulldogs’ coach after 22 years to take the same position for the Lions, replacing longtime coach Bill Templeton. The Bulldogs won seven league titles while compiling a record of 162-76 under Affholter and reached the state tournament 10 times, including four semifinal appearances.
“It was tough (to leave),” Affholter said. “To be honest with you, my wife and I debated it for quite some time when the job was posted down there.”
Seattle Seahawks director of pro personnel Nolan Teasley called his four years with Affholter from 1998-2001 the most fun he ever had playing football. As a running back, Teasley set a school record his junior year and then broke it again as a senior when the Bulldogs reached the Class 3A state tournament.
After graduating, Teasley went on to play at Central Washington and kept working out with Affholter in the offseason. At one point, Teasley said as many as 10 Wildcats football players joined Affholter, who would run and lift weights alongside the Division II student-athletes.
“He had a huge influence on the direction that my life went just in terms of instilling some work ethic and focus and understanding what it took to be successful,” Teasley said. “Not just in football but in life.”
Ellensburg athletic director Cole Kanyer, who played slot receiver and linebacker before graduating with Teasley, voiced similar sentiments about the lessons he learned from Affholter. That impact spread well beyond football players, since Affholter shared his wealth of strength and conditioning knowledge with the entire athletic program.
He continues to teach those classes along with a recently added yoga class and hopes to continue in a similar leadership role at Kennewick. Kanyer said Affholter’s drive to improve and learn more about football and strength and conditioning always brought the best out of Ellensburg’s athletes, making him difficult to replace.
“It was a pretty serious surprise,” Kanyer said. “He’s been such an important piece of our athletic program in general that it’s sad to see him go.”
But Kanyer’s also excited to see what Affholter can do in Kennewick, where he’ll take on the challenge of leading a bigger school, handling a bigger staff and competing with 4A powerhouses like Chiawana and 2017 state champion Richland in the Mid-Columbia League. Ellensburg enjoyed an impressive run of dominance in the CWAC, especially when it completed four straight unbeaten seasons en route to three 2A semifinal appearances from 2013-2016.
“It was a lot of fun,” Affholter said. “Obviously we had a run of really good kids and when you have really good kids they make you a really great coach pretty dang fast.”
The program took a suprising step back in 2017, when an 0-6 start ended a streak of 13 straight winning seasons. Affholter’s team bounced back last fall, reaching the CWAC title game and then pulling off an upset at No. 5 seed West Valley-Spokane to reach the 2A quarterfinals.
As he watched TV in the living room with his wife on Thanksgiving, they discussed plans to eventually retire and move south to live someplace warmer, such as Arizona. But when Affholter started searching for jobs there, it was the opening for Kennewick that popped up on the computer screen and caught his eye.
The job proved to be the right fit for his family and the quest for new challenges, so he’s eager to start commuting to the Tri-Cities this spring before leaving Ellensburg at the end of the school year. Teasley seemed unsurprised Affholter wants to move up a classification and said much of the football knowledge that helps him identify pro talent comes from his old high school coach.
“He just always kind of instilled kind of a first man in, last man out (mentality),” Teasley said. “Be unwilling to settle for less. Work as hard as you possibly can.”
Affholter said a strong senior class next fall should leave the Bulldogs’ new coach with an excellent roster, and Kanyer expects it to be an attractive job. But he also understands it won’t be easy to find someone who can match Affholter’s wide-ranging influence on the football team and Ellensburg’s athletic community.