HOLT – Chad Fulk vividly remembers when the expectations and excitement surrounding Holt football were at an all-time high.
He lived it.
As a quarterback in the 1990s and as an assistant coach for nearly 20 years at Holt High School, Fulk stood on the sidelines as his alma mater went from Mid-Michigan powerhouse to mediocrity.
In his first year at helm of the Rams’ program, Fulk hopes to replicate the Friday night atmosphere that was once “electric.”
“We’ve had a long, storied (program),” said Fulk, who will coach his first game against Hudsonville on August 28. “In the 2000s we did amazing. In the 1970s, we had teams that were unscored upon. …We want to get back to that for us and our community. That’s what I want it to be about.”
From 2000 to 2009, Holt had a record of 96-28 and finished the season with double-digit victories on four separate occasions. It reached the playoffs nine times during that 10-year span and the Division 1 state semifinals twice.
Since the start of the new decade, however, the Rams haven’t experienced the same success. Over the past five seasons, they have a record of 25-24 and have only reached the second round of the playoffs once.
The aura surrounding the program has changed, and Fulk has taken notice. Community interest has waned with the team’s lack of success, and he wants to bring excitement back to Friday nights and have his players experience the atmosphere that bombarded the team at its peak.
“It’s a monster we built ourselves,” Fulk said. “From 2004 through 2007 we lost one league game — we lost to Everett (2004) and didn’t lose another one until 2008. We lost to Davison the first game of the year in 2008 and people thought the season would be terrible. But Davison was amazing back then.
“For us and our community, being around .500 the last three, four years has been disappointing. To us that’s not what Holt football should be. Holt football should be 8-2, 9-1 … that’s what we’re striving for.
“We want it to be a family again, a sense of community. It’s not just us that will win games on Friday, it’s the whole town.”
Fulk has never been a head coach, but he’s earned the trust of his players. He’s left an imprint as an assistant, and has firsthand experience with the program and community. The players say they feel confident following his lead.
“He knows the program better than anyone else,” said senior linebacker Amaan Payne, who was on the panel that voted for Fulk to succeed the retired Al Slamer. “He’s not from out of town and I can trust him.
“We expect a better record, more leadership and people coming together. We want to be one team.”