Eureka College Athletics Hall of Famer Kurt Barth will enter his 11th season as the head coach of the Red Devils in 2019. The winningest head coach in Eureka football history, Barth has been the architect of a program that has soared to new heights both on and off the field, including a return to the national postseason for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, back-to-back conference titles in 2017 and 2018, an unprecedented renovation to McKinzie Field and the transition to associate membership in the Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference.
In the program's first season in the NACC, Barth piloted the Red Devils to their most successful season of the 21st century in 2018, even outshining EC's watershed 2017 campaign. The Red Devils snatched the conference crown with a 6-1 run in league play, clinching the team's second straight berth to the NCAA Division III playoffs. Eureka finished the campaign with a 9-2 record overall and received votes in the final AFCA Top 25 poll for the second straight year.
Fifteen Red Devils were named to the 2018 All-NACC team, including six first teamers in Le’Anthony Reasnover, Ryan Barth, Macae Skaggs, Jon Jackson, Trevon Moore and James Douglas III, and Coach Barth was named the NACC Coach of the Year. It was the best offensive season in school history, as the team broke program records since 1980, including total rushing yards (3,429), rushing touchdowns (47), plays (774), offensive yards (5,159), first downs (251), touchdowns (64), extra-points-attempts (54-60), points (455) and points per game (41.1).
With the help of a dominant offensive line, Le’Anthony Reasnover notched a historic season for the Red Devils and a collected a slew of awards, including NACC Player of the Year, and AFCA, Associatoin Press and D3Football.com All-America honors. The senior running back rushed for 2,187 yards and 40 touchdowns, breaking records he set the previous season and finishing his career the ownder of more than a dozen school records.
Barth earned his 50th win at Eureka after a 54-35 homecoming triumph over Wisconsin-Lutheran at McKinzie Field on Oct. 6. 2018.
In 2017, he guided EC to the outright Upper Midwest Athletic Conference championship and the Red Devils’ first-ever bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs. Eureka finished the campaign with an 8-3 record and received votes in the final AFCA Top 25 poll, the program’s first appearance on at least one national ballot since the 1994 season.
The Red Devils romped to eight consecutive conference victories in 2017, including critical wins over longtime nemeses MacMurray and St. Scholastica in consecutive weekends. A 63-26 drubbing of Martin Luther in rural Minnesota on Nov. 4 secured Eureka's place in history — its first national playoffs appearance since 1994 and its first conference championship since 1995.
Eight Red Devils were named to the All-UMAC Team in 2017. Behind the legs of Reasnover and the power of a formidable blocking game, EC broke then-single-season school records with 401 points scored and 3,033 rushing yards. The Red Devils put up 4,477 yards of total offense, then the second-most in a season in program history. Reasnover broke six program rushing records, including single-season marks with 1,875 yards and 31 touchdowns, en route to becoming the 2017 UMAC Offensive Player of the Year and Eureka’s first-ever AFCA All-American.
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.
Using a similar innovative attack that made Barth a three-time All-American as a receiver at Eureka over two decades ago, the Red Devils have eclipsed the 3,500-yard plateau in eight of Barth’s 11 seasons as head coach. The Red Devils 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 84 all-conference selections in nine seasons under Barth’s direction.
While most of Eureka’s eye-popping statistics come from the offensive side of the ball, the Red Devils have also developed one of the region’s top defenses. Under the direction of Eureka alum and Barth’s former EC teammate Deric Linder, 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 defense frustrated opponents all throughout the 2017 regular season and allowed only 257.1 yards per game, 14th-fewest in Division III. The Red Devils allowed only 119 first downs in the 2017 regular season, sixth-fewest in the country.
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. Tanner Kuhne, another Barth recruit, succeeded Winders in 2017 and promptly broke Huber’s single-season extra points record with 47 in 2017 and broke his own mark with 54 in 2018. Heading into 2019, Kuhne is eight exrta points away from becoming the program's all-time leader.
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 by a Eureka defense in more than two decades. 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). He is now an EC assistant coach and the athletic program's Strength and Wellness Coordinator.
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. Hess, Schmidgall and former teammate Mike Minehan were inducted into the Eureka College Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017.
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.
The longest tenured Eureka football head coach since community icon Warner McCollom (1979-89), 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 seventh year as Assistant Athletic Director at EC in 2018. He and his wife Becca have two children, Brayson (13) and Kamille (11), and reside in Washington.