Bryant’s legacy goes much deeper than football
Canyon head football coach Blake Bryant, right, and his wife Holly address the media Wednesday afternoon. Bryant announced his retirement after 21 years leading the Eagles program. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
Following two plus decades building Canyon into one of the more established football programs in not only the Texas Panhandle, but the entire state, one of the true ambassadors for mentoring student-athletes has decided to call it a career.
In an emotional morning telling his team, followed by a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Blake Bryant announced his retirement after 21 seasons of guiding the Eagles program.
“At the end of each season my wife Holly and I talk about our goals,” Bryant said. “For 34 years whether it’s coming to watch me play football or coming to the games to watch me coach, she’s always been right behind me. At the end of this season we talked again, and she agreed we wanted to have more time together. We can now do the things we always dreamed of doing.”
Bryant walks away from the Eagles program with a career record of 158-82. His 158 victories are the most among any active head football coach in the Texas Panhandle. Bryant led Canyon to two state semifinal appearances in 2006 and last fall’s run when Canyon finished 12-2.
The humble Bryant knows he couldn’t have put together his stellar career at Canyon without the support of his administration, the students that surrounded him, and a coaching staff that has been equally involved. Offensive coordinator Todd Winfrey has been with Bryant all 21 years, wide receivers coach John Doan has been on staff 19 years, while offensive line coach Billy Rushing and freshman football coach Wade Williams have put in 18 years.
“If anyone is concerned about our future come spend a day at Canyon High School,” Bryant said. “We’re in great shape. The key is a great coaching staff. They are an amazing group of men and I admire each one of them. They are great motivators and they get the job done.”
The wins will always be remembered by Bryant, the playoff runs are epic in his mind, however, when he speaks to his legacy as a coach, the one thing he drove home was how important his time was building young men into character adults, and role models.
“It’s been so cool to get up everyday and be around the greatest kids in America,” Bryant said. “Something that always was important to me is we teach them how to be good human beings. How to be great role models, and husbands. I want to see all of these guys be great fathers. That’s the most important thing.”
Canyon ISD administration as well as coaches and players share their thoughts on Bryant’s impact.
Dr. Darryl Flusche, Canyon ISD superintendent
“Coach Bryant is part of the foundation of great roots. His integrity, and model of character is tremendous. His leadership is something we have to continue, especially the way he developed young people in such a positive way.”
Toby Tucker, Canyon ISD athletic director
“Coach Bryant is Canyon football. The legacy he has left behind will be felt forever. He has been the head coach longer than any of his players have been alive. He sets a high standard for our program, as well as how are young men develop to become future leaders.”
Jay Defoor, Canyon senior quarterback
“Growing up in Canyon all I know is coach Bryant. Getting to play for him for four years, I saw how big of a leader he was. He is not only my coach but a friend and a mentor. He means more to me than anyone will ever know. He has great faith, and is a role model. It was an honor to play for him.”
Jack McKay, Canyon senior wide receiver
“He’s had a huge impact on me. He’s been a big part of football development on the field, but he’s been just as impactful through his faith in Christ with me. He’s a huge role model and we have a deeper relationship that goes more than football. I’ll always have his phone number.”
Matt Lovorn, Stratford head football coach; Canyon graduate (2001-2005).
“Coach Bryant got to Canyon when I was in eighth grade. Within two years he had more influence on me than I could have imagined. He and his staff are the reason I’m coaching today. He’s someone I keep up with all the time, and still go to for advice. He’s one of those coaches that not only has a big impact up here in the Texas Panhandle, but statewide.”