SPIRO, OKLA. (KFSM) - To play football at Spiro is to play for Chris Bunch. And that's just the way his players like it.
"I love Coach Bunch, he’s something else, I mean, he’s a Hall of Fame coach, who wouldn’t want to play for him," reasons senior Sam Dolan.
"I knew him 'cause he coached nearly everybody in my family," says senior Malik Roberson. "He’s a legend, I think everybody would want to play for a legend."
2019 will mark Bunch’s 30th season as the head coach at Spiro. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Coaching Association's Hall of Fame in 2018, and has never coached anywhere but his alma mater. But, Bunch says, that wasn't always the plan.
"My goal when I first got out of college was get a job in business, in the business field. My high school coach, L.D. Johnson, I give a lot of praise still for getting me in here. He talked me into coming out here and helping, been here ever since."
In the last 29 seasons, Bunch has gone an impressive 212-125, making two state title game appearances. But for Bunch, it’s not about the wins and losses; it’s about the players.
"The main thing is to make them men, teach them some character, get them so they can go out and do something other than football, and just to see those kids come back and still remember me and recognize me as being a friend to them, that means a lot to me."
His current team already has the 30th anniversary gift picked out, says Dolan.
"Our dream is to be the first championship team in Spiro."
To get there, they'll rely on experience. The Bulldogs return nine starters on both sides of the ball, a luxury any team would love. But one of the guys they have to replace is Deontei Braggs, last year's star quarterback and engine of the offense.
"I think that the talent we have this year will really fill in," says Roberson.
"Our new quarterback, Nick (Johnson),has really put in the off-season work," adds Dolan. "I'm really excited to see how he plays."
Surrounding Johnson with experience can only help, says Bunch.
"I think it makes a big difference. He's got some proven receivers out there who can catch the ball, and he'll be playing behind an experienced line which should be better than last year."
Chris Bunch's 30th season as head coach of the Spiro Bulldogs gets going Thursday, September 5th at Roland.