THE HYPE – There is swelling noise coming from the Southwest corner of the state – a buzz if you will. It’s the noise of wheels against the surface as they roll down a beaten path towards their destination. It’s the sound of the Altus Bulldogs’ bandwagon. There are a few seats left, and they are filling up fast.
On the heels of their breakout 2014 campaign, with a record of 8-3, under the new and much improved direction of head coach, Jeremy Reed, the Bulldogs enter the 2015 season hungry for more success. Starving might be a more accurate term for it.
In the ten years at Altus before coach Reed came to town, the Bulldogs managed only two winning seasons. A pair of 6-5 seasons, the last one being in 2008, were the bright spots in the program’s recent history. A change was necessary. A complete paradigm shift is more like it.
When a team is struggling to find success, it’s easy to blame a coach, rid him of the program, and hire someone new. It’s much more difficult to take a step back and get a good, long look inwardly, and notice the root of the problem.
The problem was attitude. Altus had a bad attitude. Those days are gone. Coach Reed brought much more than a new offense and new coaches with new terminologies. He brought a new life into a community. It’s palpable. The conversations have changed from wanting to know “why is this our reality” to now wanting to know if this is real.
The pace of the whole town has picked up almost as quickly as the misdirections of the flexbone system the Bulldogs now employ. Quarterback, Jayden Benway, took to the flexbone system in his first year – like a kid who had worked on it in his front yard since his grade school days, just hoping it would come to town some day. He ran it like he was a coach’s son.
Now, for his second year in the system, he has an added luxury in the backfield. His best friend moved back to town from Florida in hopes of creating some senior year memories worthy of reminiscing about for many years to come. Taven Birdow, Altus’ record holder for yards in a season (1,796) as a sophomore, spent his junior season in the backfield at IMG Academy in Florida helping them finish the season ranked 17th in the nation. He brings his near 9 yards per carry with him, together with a work ethic all young athletes would do well to emulate, and a character we all hope to instill in our children. Sounds exactly like the returning Bulldogs from 2014. Therefore, Taven’s transition back to Bulldogs’ blue has been seamless.
The 2015 Bulldogs have a group of seniors use to winning. They were undefeated as freshmen. These Bulldogs are skilled and prepared for the 2015 season. They have a plan, a purpose, and an intent to win. The flexbone is real and very hard to defend since it is almost impossible for an opponent’s scout team to simulate it in practice.
The flexbone is exciting and will give opponents worrisome fits for sure. But it’s coach Todd Vargas’ Bulldog defense that you need to look out for, because they are coming, and they are bringing their aggressive intent with them.
Brace yourselves Bulldog fans. The 2015 season looks to be fun, and should be easier for the Bulldogs. Playing football is fun, and hitting, blocking, passing, catching and running is easy.
Changing our attitude was the hard part.
Reach Brad Gilbert @482-1221 ext. 2076