MOUNTAINBURG (KFSM) - Tom Harrell has been a mainstay in Mountainburg for nearly 35 years. And now the veteran enters his 30th season as head coach.
"Got an opportunity here when I got out of college and I haven’t ever left," Harrell reflected. "It's been fun, it doesn't really seem like it's been 30 years."
Harrell volunteered at Mountainburg for two seasons from 1987-88, coached defense in 1989 and took over as head coach in his fourth season with the Dragons.
"My first year we were 8-2 and had a really good year that year. And in the mid 90s we had some good years," said Harrell. "It's hard to pick out my fondest memories."
The secret to Mountainburg's success is pretty simple.
"Country boy’s that’s bought in and worked hard and got stronger," Harrell explained. "And I think a lot of it is we don’t have kids that don’t play their sophomore year because they don’t think they get to play. They come out and they kind of take, you know sophomore year is usually not a good year. But they buy in and by time they’re juniors, they’re ready to play."
Just ask the current crop of Dragons. Harrell’s been head coach about 12 more years than most have been alive.
"Dedication and hard work," senior Malachi West said. "Coaches like it’s his last. Gives it his 100 percent, everything he does and he loves us and treats us like his own kid. It’s pretty awesome to stay in that one thing for about 30 years."
"That’s loyalty right there. Yeah, that’s loyalty," agreed quarterback Ethan Gregory.
The Dragons went 8-3 last season, shared the 2A-4 regular season title with Hector and fell to eventual state champion Junction City in the second round of the playoffs. This fall, Mountainburg opens up on August 30 at Lavaca.