Hours after being approved by the Douglas School Board to be the Bulldogs new football coach, Hunter Long was on the field having volunteer workouts with his players.
The former Bulldog, who played for Douglas High School from 2008-2011, is still Douglas High School’s top weightlifter amassing 1,145 pounds his senior season in the bench press, squat and power clean lifts.
The new coach is putting his players through 60-minute conditioning workouts on the field before moving them into the weight room for another 60-90 minutes where they lift and get motivation in an attempt to replace him on top of the weightlifting board.
“I’m ready to go and get into the swing of things,” he said. “We don’t have a whole lot of time but what time we do have we’re going to get these guys into the weight room and get them strong.”
Long said he might enter the team into a few passing league tournaments this summer but a lot depends on time and opportunity.
“My plan is to have open practice for these guys five days a week every afternoon,” he said.
In addition, many of the players are taking part in the Peak Performance Testing program which is held every Monday through Thursday morning for three hours.
“As much work as we can get in the better,” he added. “Between both PPT and practice they are going to get that much better that quicker.”
The Arizona Interscholastic Association released the upcoming football season schedule last week. The Bulldogs kick off the 2019 season at home Friday, Aug. 23 against Tanque Verde. The following week, Aug. 30 it’s the rivalry game with Bisbee. The season concludes Nov. 1 at Rio Rico.
Because the Bulldogs are still on probation for last year’s violations, no post season is possible this year.
Looking at that scenario the coach said it would still be nice to go 10-0, have a winning record and most importantly beat Bisbee and reclaim The Pick that was handed back last year as a result of the violations.
The Bisbee game is taking on a whole new meaning for Long this year as he is the only member of his family to graduate from Douglas while his dad Bobby and uncle among others are Bisbee graduates.
“That’s going to be a very interesting week to say the least,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
Long took pride in his play when he was a player at DHS and was often times referred to by his coaches, one of those Dick Keith, “as a coach on the field”. His senior year he landed All-State honors as a linebacker. He played junior college football at Victor Valley College in California and one year at the University of Arizona.
“I wasn’t the most athletic or talented player on the team but I worked my tail off day in and day out and got ready to go every single day,” he said.
Long has already hired Richard Ross and Uriel Cortez to be two of his assistant coaches. He said he has some candidates picked out he is just waiting to get them finalized and approved by the board.
“Without saying too much, I’m very excited about this staff we are putting together,” he said.
Hunter says he welcomes players to attend his workouts, the only condition is they must have their physical on file, a copy of your birth certificate as well as what is called a “brain book” which each athlete must have in that it talks about the risks and significance of concussions.
“Once those are on file in the athletic office, we welcome anyone out here,” he said. “We want to make sure we’re following policy and protocol as best as we can.”
Long welcomes the public to any of his practices. All he asks is that they allow the coaches to coach. The team will normally practice on the field behind the DHS gymnasium.
“We’re going to do all we can to get these guys ready for the upcoming season,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to the challenge.”
In regards to Hunter’s hiring, Douglas’ Athletic Director Katie Walker said, “I am excited that one of our former outstanding football players is coming home to give back to his community. Hunter’s experience and character are going to benefit the students of DHS. He will not only develop outstanding athletes but also outstanding young men.”
The Bulldogs officially kick off the football season Monday, July 29 with their first official practice.