Head Coach Jeremy Reed takes hold of the leash on the Altus High School Bulldogs. In this his first year as Head Coach and Athletic Director, Reed has been in the midst of long overdue and dramatic changes within the program. After three seasons as Dickson’s Head Coach, Reed believed it was time to move up the coaching ranks. Having an opportunity to serve as A.D. and Head Coach, affords him the control of his team from within and that is always appealing to any coach. Hopefully, the many changes in and around the program will translate to a more competitive atmosphere on campus.
THE COACH - Reed was a blue-chip recruit at Marietta High School and played a year at Mid-America in Kansas and transferred to Southeastern in Oklahoma. He has been Offensive Coordinator at Sand Springs and Ardmore and Head Coach at Coalgate and Dickson. Every place Reed called home, he implemented the spread offense. At Ardmore and Dickson, Reed’s offenses put up huge numbers. His second season at Sand Springs led all classes throwing the ball. At Ardmore, using the same offense, Reed adapted to his personnel and had one of the state’s best rushing offenses. Coach Reed is no stranger to moving the ball up and down the field and lighting up scoreboards along the way. However, he has departed from the spread in favor of an option run attack with every snap going through the fullback’s belly first. Where it goes from there is far less predictable.
RATING - If he can win early, Reed’s stock will skyrocket. Of all the many questions I have asked him, his only “no comment” response was when I asked, “To what, if anything, do you attribute the lack of recent success here at Altus?” That’s exactly what he should have said. The past is the past. Reed controls the Bulldogs future. Best of Luck with that.
THE TEAM - Altus has had great winning seasons. They won the title in 1971. Scotty McKee quarterbacked the Bulldogs, Joe Smith was a running back for the Class 3A champs, and future 3-sport All-Stater Reggie Allen was a sophomore. 1990 comes to mind as a particularly dominant year. Altus, with Keith Wiginton at quarterback, carried their 10-0-1 record into a first round playoff loss at home to Guthrie with a field goal as time expired. Devastated is not devastating enough to explain the crumbled remains of the season we had. Jason Gildon, All-American at OSU and former Pittsburgh Steeler was on that team. Yohance Brown and Oscar Cummings were sophomores on the ‘90 squad. Brown went on to win an NAIA National Championship at Southwestern earning All-American honors leading the nation in tackles for three straight years. Commings was on the losing Northwestern team in that game. The greatest high school game I’ve ever seen was during the ‘90 season. Bulldogs chased Ardmore’s Rafael Denson all night. In triple overtime, OC (Commings) blocks a field goal, Bulldogs win. . In 2001 the Bulldogs lost in the championship game against a J.D. Runnels led Carl Albert in Norman.
It hasn’t been the Bulldogs turn at the front of the line in a long while though.
Since 2004, the Bulldogs have gone 42-63. During this time, the Bulldogs are above .500 playing within the district at 36-34. For some reason, scheduling outside of the district has bullied the Bulldogs. Altus is 6-27 playing outside the district.
RATING - Better than recent years. Even with the departure of a Div. 1 blue-chip running back.
QUARTERBACK - Situation is hazy. It’s unclear who the starter will be. Cross or Benway will start. No announcement of a starter when I wrote this. Coaches say neither Benway nor Cross have emerged as a clear choice to start. Garcia is waiting in the wings.
RATING- Average with potential or potentially average. There are three athletes to choose from that will have to make snap decisions or the option fails. The plan is for 8-12 passes per game. If you don’t feature the pass in the game, you don’t feature it in practice. The less you rep something, the less chance of success when you are forced to perform that skill. Arms are fickle limbs. Because of that, it’s my belief that quarterbacks should be raised like a pitcher. Maybe that is why most quarterbacks are pitchers or catchers or shortstops. Arms have to be worked, rested, coddled, stretched, evaluated, babied, rotated, warmed-up, iced, ignored, massaged, tolerated and trained. Sometimes in that order and sometimes everyday. Ultimately, no matter how well a team runs the ball, the season will hinge on a throw that has to be made in the clutch and that arm will have to be trusted.
LINE - Option games are rough on lineman. They have to be tight on the line with a hand down. If the hand wasn’t down, the linemen would faceplant. Option games come forward every play and the trenches are battlegrounds. Anytime the fullback is featured, the better your center and guards will have to be.
RATING - This will be clear evidence to back the claim of out-working the teams on your schedule during summer weight room visits. Also, if this team has success, the line will be due the credit.
RUNNING BACK - Taven Birdow is in Florida at IMG Academy. He took his 1800 yards with him. He is coached by Heisman trophy winner and former NFL quarterback Chris Weinke. Birdow’s quarterback is the number one quarterback prospect in the 2015 class. He played his season opener August 23rd on Fox. Birdow is out. There is more to this story for a later paper.
McGill is in. He his big, fast and talented. There are other athletes in the backfield to help. Running backs can’t fumble and have to stay healthy. You must trust your QB to make the right decision. If a QB has to pitch, it’s because he has to take a hit so you can have the ball. He usually waits til last instant making himself a better decoy for sacrificial punishment by a defense that will love to get shots in on the Quarterback.
RATING - McGill is impressive. As the line goes, so go the running backs. Good blocking leads to great seasons. McGill will have big numbers possibly elite numbers.
WIDE RECEIVER - Catching footballs or anything with the hands is not difficult. If the football is bouncing off shoulder pads or hitting your face mask, you are doing it wrong. I’ve seen some catches made by Bulldogs in traffic, in the air, diving, facing the wrong way while fighting with a grappling defensive back at full speed. They are serviceable at WR and have shown sparks of brilliance. Their primary role is blocking on the perimeter and running routes as if the ball is coming to lure DBs with them down field and away from runners. It’s these blocks that turn 5 yard runs into game breakers.
RATING - Above average
SPECIALTY - Two kickers are qualified.
RATING - Very Good
DEFENSE - Need 11 hitters flying to the ball every play. Be assignment sound and stay in your lane. Keep the outside contained. If you knew how much stress a defensive coordinator puts on himself and how many hours he spends trying to decide what offenses will do next, you would not want the job. It’s like placing a bet at the roulette table based on what the wheel landed on last Friday. So, players, defensive practice days and film watching are extra important. Learn to watch film as fast as possible. Coaches can make adjustments after the fact. If you know what the film says, you can adjust in real time on the field.
RATING - Hmmm….. If I rate you NOT GOOD, will you prove me wrong week 1 at home against Vernon?
THE SEASON - On the downside, Altus has a tough schedule early. Host Vernon to open and then go to Anadarko who return 8 on both sides of the ball from back-to-back championship teams. Still, the Bulldogs have several things in their favor. Momentum in anything is good. Bulldogs have new legs. New coach, Athletic Director, family man, event planner, motivator, counselor, boss, co-worker and friend is Jeremy Reed. He is motivated, accommodating, hard-working, realistic and has a track record of offensive success. Add a junior class that was undefeated as freshman and you have a core group that is not used to losing.
RATING - Cautiously optimistic - the program is on the rise. Only direction it can go, really. It is progressing in rapid style, though. They will be better at the end than at the beginning. That is a good season for any team. If they can win early, this could be a special year.