The game ball for Okemos went to Jack Wallace on Friday night.
The veteran coach picked up the 200th win of his more than three decades coaching career in the Chiefs’ 36-7 road victory over Eastern, but that milestone took a backseat to just getting a victory.
Friday’s win marked the first of the season for a young Okemos team.
“For me it was about them getting their first win of the season,” said Wallace, who is 200-116 in a coaching career that’s included 32 years at Fowlerville. “That was more important than anything else in my eyes. They’ve worked hard and been in a few games and just weren’t able to finish. It was more about the kids getting their win, the team getting the win and that’s what was important.”
Wallace and Okemos had come close to picking up win No. 1 on a few instances this season. He was a little concerned how his team would respond Friday after a tough Week 7 loss to Holt, but noticed resiliency and was glad to see his players rewarded.
“Their perseverance has been phenomenal,” Wallace said. “Each week they’ve been tested. It started early in the season. Mason did a heck of a job in their offensive display against us and we had to make that long bus ride down to Ann Arbor Skyline twice and we had the five-hour delay the first time we were down there and had to go back the next day.
“They’ve hung in there and that’s what they’ve been doing all year. We’ve had three or four games that we’ve been in going into the fourth quarter and finally to get a win, it was just really rewarding.”
Wallace has been appreciative of the support he’s had during a head coaching career that started in 1978 at Fowlerville. And he believes he’s been fortunate to have great assistants and kids to work with during his time at Fowlerville and Okemos.
“The assistant coaches obviously don’t get to share in that credit, but they are a valuable part of it,” Wallace said. “I’ve been fortunate to work with some great guys that are committed to kids and committed to excelling in football and (to have) a family that supports me.
“Without my wife and my two daughters through this whole journey that wouldn’t be possible. Every football coach knows that a wife and family is crucial to be behind you and have that support. My wife has done that all along and that makes it possible for me to do what I love to do, and that’s coach football.”
Contact Brian Calloway at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.