Hollis coach receives honor early in career
When votes were tallied for the Oklahoma Football Coaches Association Region 4 Coach of the Year award, it was Hollis' Reade Box, a young gun, who'd received the most.
And it didn't surprise Larry McDaniel one bit. The longtime Apache coach, who threw his vote for Box into that pile, always knew there was something special about him.
"I'm showing my age a little bit I guess," McDaniel started, "but I was the defensive coordinator at Apache when Reade was still in high school (at Mangum). I remember we were playing at Apache when his dad (then Mangum head coach Mark Box) was coaching. We were trying to win the district championship that night. Reade made a big play, single-handedly took the ball from us when we were fixing to score. I thought to myself, 'That's a pretty tough kid.'"
McDaniel followed that kid's coaching career from Box's early start at Texoma, then his two-year stint as head coach at Healdton before leaving for Hollis three years ago.
And it was that last move, all the way down to Harmon County, just a rock toss from the Texas state line, that allowed for McDaniel's first close-up view of Box as a coaching peer. As the 33-year-old Box helped guide Hollis to the school's first-ever football state title with an undefeated 14-0 season last year, Apache, unsuccessfully, stood in the way twice once in district action and again in the state semifinals.
"I really wish he'd stayed down at Healdton," McDaniel said laughing. "I don't like playing against him. I like him and I like him as a coach, but I don't like playing against him. I'd rather meet him at a clinic or something than meet him on the field. His teams are so disciplined."
Kent Jackson, who as head coach has brought two state championships to Anadarko in the past three years, didn't attend the OFBCA meeting when votes were cast. But if he had, he said, there is no doubt he would've voted for Box.
"He's done a great job with that program," Jackson said. "Definitely one of the best young coaches in the state."
Box epitomizes the player-to-coach path. He was a linebacker and quarterback in high school, who played in the 1998 state finals under his dad and went on to play at Southwestern Oklahoma State. When two of the area's best coaches started heaping praise on him, Box clearly valued it greatly.