Eureka College Athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth will enter his ninth season as the head coach of the Eureka football program in 2017. The winningest head coach in Eureka football history, Barth has led EC to a pair of eight-win seasons and molded the Red Devils into an annual contender in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference.
In 2016, Barth led the Red Devils to an 8-2 record for the second time since 2013. The Red Devils opened the season with a Lincoln Bowl victory over Knox for the fourth time in five seasons, defeated Greenville for the first time since 2002, won their homecoming game for the fifth time since 2011 and collected six straight UMAC wins midway through the season. Eureka’s 14-7 victory over Minnesota Morris on Oct. 29 at McKinzie Field was the 37th of Barth’s career, vaulting him ahead of Eureka icon Ralph McKinzie for the most coaching victories in the 126-year history of the program.
The Eureka offense was anchored by running back LeAnthony Reasnover and a dominant offensive line in 2016. Reasnover became the first Red Devil to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since 1999 and EC ran for 1,886 yards overall, its highest team total in Barth’s eight-year tenure.
Defensively, Eureka ranked 17th nationally in total defense in 2016 and limited opponents to just 17.4 points per game, the lowest average by EC opponents since 1991. The Red Devils held the opposition to two touchdowns or less in seven of the 10 games.
Nine Red Devils were named to the All-UMAC Team in 2016 and defensive end Trever Zeibert became the second Red Devil to earn All-Region accolades from D3football.com.
Using a similar innovative attack that made Barth a three-time All-American as a receiver at Eureka nearly two decades ago, the Red Devils have eclipsed the 3,500-yard plateau in five of Barth’s eight seasons as head coach, including a 4,296 mark in 2009 that was Eureka’s second highest offensive output in program history. The Red Devils have led the UMAC in passing three times and reached as high as 16th in the nation in passing offense in 2009.
In all, Eureka has received 53 All-UMAC selections in eight seasons under Barth’s direction. Additionally, Barth’s strategies have put a dent in the Eureka football record book, as the Red Devils have broken 16 program records, including eight passing records, since his arrival in 2009.
While most of Eureka’s eye-popping statistics come from the offensive side of the ball, the Red Devils have also made strides defensively. Under the direction of Eureka alum and Barth’s former EC teammate Deric Linder, the defense had steadily improved. Eureka has held opponents to fewer than 18.6 points per game twice since 2013 and limited the opposition to 280 yards per game to rank 17th in Division III in total defense in 2016.
Eureka has also excelled on special teams under Barth, who recruited the two most successful kickers in program history. Travis Huber, one of Barth’s first recruits after arriving in 2008, shattered all-time Eureka records with 108 extra points and 20 field goals. Huber’s successor, Tyler Winders, went to break Huber’s field goal record with 21 career kicks and added 93 extra points to rank second in program history behind Huber.
Barth and the Red Devils had a breakthrough season in 2013, finishing the campaign with an 8-2 record. The final mark was Eureka’s best since 1995. Quarterback Blake Robles broke the single-season school record for completions (215) and a veteran EC defensive unit limited opponents to 18.6 points per game, the lowest mark since the 1991 season. The Red Devils also posted a perfect 5-0 road record in 2013 for the third time in program history.
In 2012, EC captured national attention after a 736-yard passing performance from quarterback Sam Durley in EC’s 62-55 season-opening victory over Knox. The performance, which landed Durley, Barth and the Red Devils in the national media spotlight, helped Eureka break a single-game school record with 826 yards of total offense. The Red Devils went on to receive unprecedented accolades for an NCAA Division III school, as Durley became the first non-NCAA Division I player to receive the Manning Award Player of the Week. Durley, who played for Barth at Eureka High School and later came to EC as Barth’s first quarterback recruit, went on to break all-time Eureka records in completions (572), passing yards (8,162) and passing touchdowns (61).
The 2011 campaign saw postseason All-America selections for Alex Hess and Wes Schmidgall. The local duo gave the Eureka football program an All-America choice for the first time since Barth himself earned All-America honors as a senior in 1997.
In his first season as head coach in 2009, Barth directed the Red Devils to four wins for the first time in a decade. The offense scored 300 points in 10 games, the fourth-highest total by a Eureka team in program history. His debut season also produced a UMAC South Division Offensive Player of the Year award for graduated quarterback Nick Lindsey. Lindsey rapidly improved under Barth’s guidance to set all-time Eureka records in completions, passing yards and passing touchdowns. Lindsey, one of only two players in program history to rank among Eureka’s all-time top 10 in passing and rushing, was inducted into the Eureka Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
Barth is coaching for the third time on the Eureka staff and first time as head coach. Shortly following his record-breaking playing career for the Red Devils, Barth served as an assistant coach in 1998, then returned for his second stint on the EC staff from 2003-04 as offensive coordinator. Barth’s strategies helped Eureka increase its offensive production significantly in 2003 and again 2004, nearly doubling its output from 2002 in passing yards, total offense and points scored.
Perhaps the most decorated student-athlete in the history of Eureka College, the Minonk, Ill. native was a three-time NCAA Division III All-American from 1995 through 1997 and was inducted into the Eureka College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2004. He is a 1998 graduate of Eureka College with a B.S. in physical education and earned his master’s degree from the American College of Education in 2010.
The Red Devils compiled a 27-13 record during Barth’s playing career, which included an NAIA playoff berth in 1994 and a 9-1 record in 1995 for an Illini-Badger Football Conference championship. The 27 wins between 1994 and 1997 represent the most successful four-year stretch in program history, as Barth and teammate Damon Gladney were the only four-year players on the 1997 team.
On October 11, 1997 against Concordia (Ill.) at McKinzie Field, Barth set the NCAA Division III record in career receiving yards. He finished with 4,311 yards, currently ninth in Division III history. He also recorded 256 career receptions and scored 51 touchdowns in regular-season competition.
As a sophomore in 1995, Barth led the country in receiving yards per game at 133.7. The Red Devils lost just one game that season as Barth recorded 68 catches, 1,337 yards and 18 touchdowns. Against Concordia (Wis.) on Sept. 28, 1996, Barth made 20 receptions, which is still tied for fifth-most in a game in NCAA Division III history.
By the time he had completed his EC playing career, Barth ranked second in NCAA Division III for career touchdowns (51), career receiving yards per game (110.5) and touchdowns in a season (18).
Prior to his appointment at Eureka College in December 2008, Barth was the football head coach at Eureka High School from 2005 until 2008, leading the Hornets to a berth in the IHSA 4A state playoffs in 2007. In all, Barth coached 48 all-conference players during his four-year stay at EHS, including a pair of all-state picks. Barth also coached at the high school level from 2000 until 2002 as the defensive and special teams coordinator at his alma mater, Fieldcrest High School.
Following his first stint as an assistant coach on the Eureka College staff, Barth enjoyed two seasons as a professional player. He was an Indoor Football League Pro Bowl selection in the summer of 2000 for the Duluth-Superior Lumberjacks. The following summer, Barth was named the most valuable player of the af2’s Peoria Pirates in 2001.
In addition to his football duties, Barth will begin his fifth year as Assistant Athletic Director at EC in 2017. He and his wife Becca have two children, Brayson (11) and Kamille (9), and reside in Washington.