Dave Harper taught and coached at Templeton High School for 20 years

TEMPLETON — On Wed. Oct. 27, hundreds gathered at Volunteer Stadium at Templeton High School to mourn the loss of Coach Dave Harper, who died Oct. 20 from complications of COVID-19. He was 55 years old.

Prior to his teaching career, Harper had a career as a professional football player.

Harper was born and raised in Eureka, California, on May 5, 1966. He attended the College of the Redwoods to play football and in 1987 accepted a football scholarship to Weber State University in Utah.

Harper then transferred that same year to Humboldt State University to play Division II football for the Northern California school.

Later, he played professional football for the Dallas Cowboys in 1990, as well as several professional Canadian Football Leagues, the Saskatchewan Roughriders, Sacramento Goldminers and San Antonio Texans, Ottawa Rough Riders, and Montreal Alouettes.

In 1997, Harper was inducted into the Humboldt State Athletics Hall of Fame.

Then, in 2002 the Templeton Unified School District hired Harper. Since then, he has played the role of athletic director, head football coach, and physical education teacher.

If you graduated or attended Templeton High School within the last 20 years, chances are Harper was your Physical Education (PE) instructor, football coach, or friend.

Coach Harper, Harp-dog, Dave, regardless of who he was to you, he was someone you will never forget.

Despite your bratty attitude or your pleas not to run the mile today, Harper never failed to seemingly just enjoy life and put up with your annoying teenage self. Instead of getting angry with his students, he created “Harp to Heart” talks where he laughed with his students, listened to them, and supported them.

Coach Dave Harper’s gentle presence will forever be missed, and there will forever be a Harper shaped hole to fill at Templeton High School.

Remember what Harper would say, “It’s always a beautiful day in the county.”