When it comes to Oklahoma high school football and winning programs, the Altus Bulldogs are in the discussion as one of the best programs in the state over the last three years.
When it comes to defense, the Bulldogs again find themselves among other elite schools in the state. Although it takes several coaches to make a hard-hitting, play-making defense effective, coaches Matt Terry and Todd Vargas have helped transform the Bulldog defense into one that instills fear in opposing offenses with just the mention of the Altus name.
The athletes who play beneath the accomplished coaches know that much is expected of them but they also know that when the game begins, they are as well prepared as any team in the state.
It is a group of young men who battle until the final seconds tick off the scoreboard. They play with heart, courage, and tenacity and they make the most of every second they are given on the field.
Playing football in Altus is something special. Bulldog lineman and linebacker Chris Heitert is well aware of that and he makes sure that when his number is called, he is ready to make a play for his teammates, his coaches, and his community.
“‘Play for the A’ to me means pushing your hardest for the community and showing out for everything that comes out to support us,” Heitert said. “Playing for this community has been a fun experience and it is definitely a great feeling when we practice and then play on Fridays in front of a cheering crowd.”
Heitert—like many Bulldogs—began playing football when he was still in elementary school.
There was something about the sport that drew him to it and kept him hard at it despite grueling practices and workouts.
“My dad showed me football in the fifth grade,” Heitert said. “From then, I fell in love with the intensity of the sport.”
Heitert focused all of his energy into football and turned that energy into production. He finished last season with 12 tackles that included two for a loss. During that time, he was also responsible for two fumble recoveries.
Determined to be better, faster, and stronger than he was last season, Heitert hit the weight room with his fellow Bulldog teammates and put in extra work all to make sure that when the ball was snapped, he had done everything he could to give the team its best shot to win.
“I have worked hard with my team over the past year. We started in January and worked hard in the Summer Pride program and we still work to get bigger during the week and out work the other teams,” Heitert said. “I try to help encourage the underclassmen and help them with their position if they need anything and I try to be a good leader to everyone.”
Heitert knows that the Bulldogs are plenty capable and knows that all of the hard work they put in during the summer is translating to the field now.
Against Clinton, the Bulldogs held the Red Tornadoes to just 37 total yards in the 19-0 victory. The win started the Bulldogs off on the right track and gave the group the confidence needed rise to each new challenge the season presented.
It even has many on the team thinking championship.
“I have high expectations for this week and for this season in general. We are working really hard and we have a good bunch of players that won’t quit when times are tough,” Heitert said. “I believe we have a shot at another gold ball this season but before that, we are going to battle through each game week-by-week as they come along.”
The brotherhood Heitert and the rest of the Bulldogs belong to helps motivate them to do better in every way and it keeps them on the right track no matter what is happening on and off the field.
“Having the ability to be apart of this brotherhood and being able to play next to some of my best friends on the line helps motivate me. I want to see them succeed,” Heitert said. “The entire team and the community of Altus is what pushes me to do my best.”
The brotherhood is one of the things Heitert will miss most about the team as well as all of the memories made while a member of the team.
“I’m going to miss waking up at six everyday to go lift and having the coaches yelling and blowing their whistles for us to work harder,” Heitert said. “Winning the 2015 state championship and being able to experience that with all my senior players has to be my most memorable moment as a Bulldog.”
Now, Heitert and the rest of the Bulldog players will continue to put in the work necessary to do what they can to bring the gold ball back to Altus at the end of the season.
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.