If you were to ask any football coach which win in his career means the most to him, he would tell you: Every win matters.
What about the first win as a head coach? Is that game more memorable than others?
Now, you are asking the right questions.
Chris Joslin took over the Athletic Director/Head Football Coach position at Coahoma back in late summer of 2018. He had just finished a two-year tenure at Rockdale High School where he had helped bring a state championship back to the small town about an hour northeast of Austin.
Before he was an offensive assistant coach at Rockdale, Joslin spent almost 10 years as a member of the Big Spring Steers coaching staff under former coach and current principal Mike Ritchey. Joslin had loved living out in West Texas and when Coahoma called looking for a new coach, he jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve always loved being around Coahoma and so it was exciting to be able to do that,” Joslin said. “When we got here that summer, everyone welcomed us with open arms so it was exciting.”
Following the move to Coahoma, Joslin had less than one month with his team before the start of the season. He spent as much time as possible trying to install his system before the start of the season.
It was not enough.
The Bulldogs did not have a full offseason during Joslin’s first year and therefore ended up adding more and more to their playbook each week during the season. However, there was still enough talent on the Coahoma roster to do some damage in Year One.
“Some of the kids came to 7-on-7 stuff and we always knew that they would work hard and were really coachable,” Joslin said.
Every high school football season in Howard County begins the same way: the Howard County Bowl. It is the yearly game between the Coahoma Bulldogs and Forsan Buffaloes that kicks off the season at Memorial Stadium in Big Spring.
In 2018, the game was highly anticipated as Coahoma fans were waiting to see how their team looked under the new head coach’s leadership. Joslin had been looking forward to his first head coaching job for a while and he was determined to take advantage of it.
Joslin has long been friends with members of the coaching staff at Forsan which made the game slightly less intimidating. After all, this was his first head coaching job and playing against longtime friends can make either a win or a loss feel humbling.
“The first game I got to coach was against my friends over at Forsan. A lot of us have coached together so it was very exciting,” Joslin said.
There was some rust for everyone from both teams to knock off at the beginning of the first game but the Bulldogs appeared to be rolling. On their first possession of the game, the Bulldogs went right down the field for an Isaac Murillo rushing touchdown that gave them a 6-0 lead.
Forsan was quick to respond on the ensuing drive when quarterback Kobe Richardson found wide receiver Zane Riffe for a 53-yard touchdown pass. Unlike Coahoma, the Buffs were able to convert their extra point and held an early 7-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After a few possession from both teams that stalled out, Forsan was moving the ball down the field once again. They had already held a one-point lead and were trying to extend it before halftime.
Forsan running back Trey Brockman powered his way into the end zone from the goal line for a 2-yard score. The extra point was converted and gave Forsan a 14-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
The ensuing kickoff was a huge return from Coahoma wide receiver Braxton Chandler and the Bulldogs found themselves deep within enemy territory. After a few plays, powerful dual threat quarterback Zack Schneider was able to push through the line for a 2-yard score. Without a strong kicker on the roster, Joslin opted to go for two but Schneider was stopped short on that attempt and Forsan held a 14-12 lead at the half.
“The players didn’t really know us and we didn’t really know them yet,” Joslin said. “We just asked them to believe in what we’re doing and it’s a testament to those kids for wanting to work (for the win).”
The third quarter was when the game picked up its intensity and it was obvious how badly both teams wanted to start the season with a win.
Following a punt from each team to start the second half, the Bulldogs had the ball inside their own 5-yard line. What followed was one of the most impressive runs of Schneider’s career as he weaved through traffic at the line of scrimmage, broke a few tackles, and stampeded his way 55 yards into Forsan territory.
“I knew who Zack was before I got here and the offense that we were going to run was going to be built around him,” Joslin said.
Coahoma capitalized on that big play and Schneider was able to score another touchdown. This time it was a 7-yard scamper that put the Bulldogs ahead 18-14 midway through the third quarter.
After a Forsan punt on the next drive, the next four drives all ended in turnovers for both teams. First, Forsan recovered a fumble inside the Coahoma 20-yard line and looked to be in good scoring position. Then, an errant pass from Richardson was picked off stalling the Buffs’ drive. Schneider quickly gave the ball back to Forsan with his own interception and the third quarter finally ended after Schneider recovered a fumble from his defensive end position.
Coahoma was able to punch in one more score in the fourth when Schneider plunged into the end zone from one yard out. That gave Coahoma a 24-14 lead in the fourth and Joslin was on his way to his first career win.
Bulldog linebacker Avry Burgans was able to recover another Forsan fumble in the fourth and the game ended after the Buffs turned the ball over on downs.
Coahoma had won their second Howard County Bowl in-a-row and Joslin earned his first win as Head Coach of the Coahoma Bulldogs.
The Coahoma Bulldogs went on to finish that 2018 season with a 4-7 record while they learned the intricacies of Joslin’s system. Last season, in Joslin’s second year, the Bulldogs added five wins to their previous year’s total and completed the year with a 9-3 record. Even with the graduation of Schneider, who ran Joslin’s offense so well, the Bulldogs are not backing down from anyone and are ready to take on the 2020 season.
“The fun thing about high school sports is that you don’t get to pick your players and you don’t get to keep them for a long time,” Joslin said. “Each team is a different team.”
Joslin has done a great job turning around the program since he has arrived. Not every game can be as memorable as your first win as a head coach but they all matter.
With Joslin leading the red and white, there are plenty more wins to come.
Shawn Moran is the sports writer at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.