"It’s been quite a whirlwind," Bob Craig said of his initial weeks as the head football coach at Pawhuska High School.
Following a brief get-acquainted visit when he was hired by the local school board on May 21, Craig and his wife made a quick trip to Florida where they watched their grandson participate in his spring football workouts.
The new coach was back in town last week to lead the Huskies through a pair of grid workouts before the arrival of heavy rains kept everyone inside for the Thursday session. Coaches Mark Frye and Brian Edwards are assisting with the PHS football squad, which has openings at two other coaching slots.
"I am just so glad to be here, though, and I’m certainly looking forward to the future," said Craig, who also will be acting as the school’s athletic director. "It’s really exciting."
Twenty-one Huskie players took part in each of the three practice sessions that were held last week, according to Craig. He said the short notice given prior to the initial practice no doubt reduced the overall turnout, with another probable factor being that the workout sessions started on the first day of summer break.
Craig added that attendance was especially sparse among younger prospects.
"I understand that, in today’s environment, there are a lot of things to do," the new PHS coach said. "But, those are the guys that will benefit the most when we get them out here."
All in all, Craig said he was very pleased by what he saw during the early workouts — especially in what he considers to be two key areas, speed and size.
"You can’t teach speed, of course, and sometimes you just can’t find the size," he added. "It’s a blessing to see that we have both."
Craig said the preliminary workouts mainly gave him an opportunity to gauge the team’s talent levels.
"There was no use in trying to do a lot when everybody was just getting to know me," said Craig. "But I was able to see a lot of things that I liked — I was amazed by how quickly they took to some of the concepts."
Next Monday, Pawhuska High football players will return to the field for SPA (for Speed, Power, Agility) training, Craig said. The following Monday (June 17), he and the other coaches will work with local seventh- and eighth-graders.
"After we all get on the same page, we’ll be able to make up for the time that we’ve missed," the coach said. "First you’ve got to know what talent is available, they you have to give that talent the opportunity to be successful."
The new Huskie mentor began his three-decade-plus coaching career in 1977 as an assistant at Cleveland High School, where he remained for the next 20 years.
"I’m very familiar with ol’ Highway 99," Craig said. "And it was really great to be able to take it here to Pawhuska, a place which has so much football history and so many positives."
A native of Tahlequah who played in college at Northeastern A&M, Craig has served previous stints as a head coach at Beggs and Collinsville. During his first three years at Beggs, the Demons were in Class 2A. After three years at Class 5A Collinsville, he returned to Beggs for five years at the 3A level. Craig also coached at Coweta.
He said football traditions at Pawhuska should run deep. And that, Craig said, is another reason he is so glad to find himself with the Huskies.
"Everybody who has ever played here has a stake in what will happen in 2013."