By Brandon Zenner, New-Press Now
CONCEPTION JUNCTION, Mo. – During his time as football coach at South Holt, Mike Buckler’s play sheet was rather simple.
In his time from 1991 until 1997, Buckler guided South Holt to two state championships and amassed a 49-15 record. On Sunday night, Buckler became the newest member of the Missouri 8-Man Coaches Association Hall of Fame, along with his limited play calls.
“We ran veer to the right, and we ran veer to the left. We passed the ball; if we had to pass the ball three times, that was too much,” he said, drawing laughter from the hundreds of players, coaches and parents at Tri-Meadows in Conception Junction, Missouri.
Buckler’s stops include as a player at Missouri Western from 1978-82 with coaching positions at Pittsburg State and back him alma mater throughout the ’80s. He coached South Holt in Oregon, Missouri, until accepting a position as principal at Robidoux Middle School. After 10 years, he decided he had been away from coaching long enough.
“I missed it. You’re around kids when you’re a principle, but it’s completely different,” Buckler said. He then was granted an opportunity to spend three seasons at Benton as an assistant before becoming Central’s defensive coordinator in 2010.
Ever since receiving the news this summer, Buckler has found time to reflect on some of his fondest memories while in the 8-man realms. His first game with South Holt, Buckler, and his wife Mary were going to celebrate by taking the team bus home with the players. However, every player rode home with family, leaving the pair to share a bus ride home alone.
In Buckler’s second season, he let the school’s principal, a former coach, call the first play of the year. Excepting a fancy trick play or reverse, the call was for a quarterback sneak, “a guaranteed score.” The play ended with a 65-yard touchdown.
That second season ended with a 20-20 tie with South Nodaway in the state championship, meaning rings and trophies for everybody, Buckler’s next title came one year later, though it was also a 30-30 draw, this time with North Andrew.
“It’s just great to be able to reflect, see people and see these kids,” Buckler said. “But they still aren’t as big as the kids we had in Oregon.”