Why are you a coach?

The question came near the end of Friday’s Longview-Greggton Rotary Club meeting, where Longview’s John King, Pine Tree’s Kerry Lane and Spring Hill’s Jonny Louvier were the honored guests.

King, the elder statesman of a group, quickly grabbed the microphone. After hesitating for just a couple of seconds, King left little doubt about the path he took and why.

“Because of my high school coach,” King said matter-of-factly, adding he half-heartedly attempted to find another occupation during his college playing days at the request of his parents – both educators – before finally putting his foot down and declaring his intentions to become a football coach.

That decision has worked out pretty well for King, who heads into the 2019 season with a record of 168-36, 13 district championships in 16 seasons and an 84-6 record in district games.

Oh yeah. There’s also some state championship hardware glistening in the Lobo trophy case for the first time in 81 seasons after Longview ran the table a year ago and captured the Class 6A Division II state title in front of more than 48,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Lane, in his fourth season at Pine Tree, also credited a former high school coach with being a mentor, role model and the reason he chose the same path.

Louvier, starting his first season at Spring Hill, said the idea to become a coach hit home for him thanks to a college coach.

Not one of them mentioned the win/loss record of the men who inspired them to become coaches. Instead, they remembered how their former coaches loved on kids when they needed love, chewed them out when they needed to be chewed out and pushed them to become better teammates, better students and better members of society before ever worrying about Xs and Os.

It stuck with them, and as Lane put it: “At Pine Tree, we work ‘em for 2 hours and love ‘em for 22 hours.

In three short weeks, King, Lane and Louvier – along with thousands of other high school coaches across the state — will be stalking the sidelines hoping a bunch of 15-18 year-old kids can execute a game plan well enough to put another win in the record books.

Some teams will walk off the field victorious, and others will go back to the drawing board and attempt to figure out what went wrong.

Regardless of the outcome or your favorite team’s games this season, I urge you to at least consider something I figured out shortly after I became a sportswriter 33 years ago.

I’m not just covering – and you’re not just watching – high school football. I’m covering – and you’re watching — people who coach and play high school football.

WE’VE GOT YOU COVERED

Some exciting things on the horizon for football fans in the coming weeks, starting on Wednesday when begin rolling out photo galleries for the teams that joined us in Kilgore at the East Texas Oil Museum for our inaugural photo shoot for The Zone preseason magazine.

We’ll unveil 4-5 teams each day leading to Aug. 25, which is the publication date for The Zone preseason magazine – a 148-page monster that’ll include 20 districts and 146 teams, along with previews for TAPPS and Six Man squads.

Proud to be part of this team, and I can’t say enough about the work done on these photo galleries and The Zone magazine by Hayden Henry, George Whitley, Scott Brunner, Les Hassell and Michael Cavazos of the Longview News-Journal, Nathan Hague of the Marshall News Messenger, Brandon Ogden, Phil Hicks, Cara Campbell, Sarah Miller and Haley Holcomb of the Tyler Morning Telegraph and the advertising departments for all three newspapers.

Email: jstallard@news-journal.com; Follow Jack Stallard on Twitter: @lnjsports