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Columbia River tabs Dewayne Patterson as new football coach

8-year assistant takes over Rapids' program

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: March 27, 2023, 4:59pm

Monday was a typical school day for Dewayne Patterson at Columbia River High School with one exception: he was named River’s new head football coach once school let out. 

“Now,” said Patterson, 38, “the hard work starts, so I’m happy.”

Patterson, an assistant coach in the program the past eight seasons, is first-time high school football coach. He replaces Brett Smedley, who resigned in January after four seasons. 

And naturally, Monday’s announcement to the team came during after-school football workouts. 

Then, it was back to business.

“It was still normal work,” Patterson said. 

This fall will mark Patterson’s ninth year at River as an educator and a coach. He worked under River’s three previous head coaches: the late John O’Rourke, Christian Swain and Smedley. Those experiences helped pave the way to take on the River job, he said. But it was during the process of applying to be a first-time high school head coach that Patterson reached out to others who coached him — from youth to college — to ask what made Patterson the player he was. Four things he learned, he said: relentless, aggressive, intelligent and disciplined.

Expect that to be true for the Rapids under Patterson, he said. 

“That’s how I am as a coach,” he added. “I try to keep it the same way, the same mentality. … And I try to lead by example.”

Patterson’s background as a player and coach is defense. The former Washington State safety and ex-Indoor Arena League player spent the past four seasons as River’s defensive coordinator, and was a River defensive assistant coach prior to that. He said he plans to remain as defensive coordinator. 

What else is to be expected? He plans to add his own touch to the program, but also bring a bit of familiarity.

“You’re going to see a lot of old River and what River was,” he said. “I might add a little something to it, something new, but a lot of alumni are going to see the old River.”

Columbia River went 4-5 overall in 2022.