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story.lead_photo.caption - Photo by Patric Flannigan

— Bearden School District Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Greg Anthony served as the guest speaker during a recent Kiwanis Club meeting at Catherine’s Bistro.

The accomplished yet approachable coach provided plenty of laughs for the Kiwanians by sharing stories about his family and his 30 years in coaching.

Anthony began by thanking the Kiwanis for inviting him and introducing his wife, Tina and one of their seven grandchildren, Chase, who accompanied him.

Anthony shared that he was a graduated of Bearden High School in the early 80’s and that when he and his wife moved back to Bearden last year, they were hoping to retire.

“She’s been in education for over 30 years and we have family here,” Anthony said. “So the plan was to come home and work as an assistant coach a year or two and then kinda ease into retirement. Well, it didn’t happen that way.”

Bearden’s former head football coach Trey Outlaw accepted a position in El Dorado in the spring and several other assistant coaches moved or went into administration. Anthony said Bearden School District Superintendent Denny Rozenberg asked him if he would be interested in being the Bearden head coach. He said he hesitated at first but with further encouragement from Rozenberg, he applied and was selected as the new head coach by the school board in May.

Anthony found out that he would also be the athletic director after applying for the job. This added to what has already been an active life for someone that was pondering retirement. Since returning to Bearden, he has been ordained as a youth minister and Sunday School teacher. Because of his five years as a warden for the state penitentiary, he has also been called on by local law enforcement and members in the community to check building alarms. He shared how he was woken up out of his sleep by a call after an alarm went off at a local business and was out until the morning trying to secure the area.

“My wife wakes up and she’s thinking I left her,” Anthony joked. “I don’t know if that made her sad or happy. But she calls me and asks where I’m at and I literally told her that I was out chasing bad guys now.”

Anthony said Bearden football got off to a late start because of the late hiring and that numbers have been an issue mostly because of a down year in 2018. He has already developed stategies for all of his opponents for the next season after many late nights and early mornings watching film. Four starters from last year moved out of the district for family reasons, but two are rumored to come back.

“It always takes a couple of years to build a program back up after a bad year,” Anthony said. “The players know that. I think our numbers will pick back up when school starts. I think we are still going to be pretty good.”

One of the things that will play in Bearden’s favor is the restoring of tradition. Anthony said Bearden changed a lot in terms of its uniform colors and logo in 2018 but he is going back to what it was. He shared that he wants to make sure the Bearden students are having fun again like they were when the school was always in the playoffs.

Bearden opens the season rough with games against Lafayette County, Harmony Grove, Hazen, Gurdon and Fordyce - four of those teams are ranked in the top three of their select conferences. Anthony says he encourages his team to work hard regardless of the odds and said that if they do what they are supposed to conduct wise and academic wise “Friday night’s will take care of themselves.” He said that there was a time when he was younger and winning was all that mattered. He said he was even hospitalized a couple times after a loss because of blood pressure issues. But now he see what’s more important.

“There’s a good chance that we could be 1-4 starting out, but you never know,” Anthony said. “What I’m trying to build here are good men that will be able to grow up and support their families. I told my team the other day, the wins are nice. We want to win. But if the wins don’t come, those seven kids that gave their lives to Christ at church last week is more important. That’s what its about.”

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