Surprise trip for Columbus’ coach

By Marlo Pronovost
Yellowstone Newspapers


John Smith was beside himself Tues- day morning.

“I’m going!” said the former Colum- bus High School football coach, unable to contain his emotion.

His destination is Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in February to watch former Cougar and current Carolina Panthers’ defensive tackle Dwan Edwards battle the Denver Broncos.

“We’ve been texting all morning. He set it all up. He just keeps saying ‘I can’t believe this is happening’,” said Smith, who coached Edwards in high school.

It most definitely is happening. And in a big way.

The 15-1 Panthers, led by quarterback Cam Newton, will face-off against grid- iron legend Peyton Manning in what could be the Denver quarterback’s final game.

The 6-foot-3-inch, 305 pounds Edwards has recorded 14 tackles and one sack during the regular 2015 season. Career stats include 347 tackles, 19.5 sacks,

three forced fumbles and three intercep- tions, according to



There’s much more to Edwards than his elite athletic ability.

As a high school football player, Smith said Edwards had size but was also “aca- demically superior.”

“Intellect of that level is important in the NFL,” said Smith.

Impressively, Edward’s earned his degree at Oregon State University before entering the NFL draft.

Off the field, Smith said Edwards is an amazing person.

A father since his freshman year at Oregon State University, Edwards and his wife, Kelsey, welcomed their fifth child last summer, said Smith.

“He’s always been a family man,” said Smith. “He would go to practice and go home.”

Edwards holds a football camp for kids in Billings nearly every summer. His Facebook page is filled with posts and photos of him serving food at the Salvation Army Center of Hope, posing with U.S. military troops with words of

thanks, spending time at the Ronald McDonald House and other communi- ty service activities.

Smith said he attended one of Edwards’ NFL games and heard Balti- more Ravens Coach John Harbough call Edwards an “incredible human being.”