Bryant wins 150th game as head football coach at Canyon High School

Coach+Bryant+claims+150th+win+as+head+coach+at+Canyon+High.+The+%25237+ranked+Eagles+defeated+Midland+Greenwood+48-0+Friday%2C+Sept.+25+at+Happy+State+Bank+Stadium.

Kodi Hicks

Coach Bryant claims 150th win as head coach at Canyon High. The %237 ranked Eagles defeated Midland Greenwood 48-0 Friday, Sept. 25 at Happy State Bank Stadium.

By Blake Loria, Abigail Bell, and Hannah Backus

Whether they are on or off the field–in high school or several decades graduated–a Canyon Eagle is always a Canyon Eagle. After 21 years of coworkers becoming family and students becoming friends, the relationships built with his team reflect his character. More than just an individual accomplishment, the 150th win under Head Coach Blake Bryant is a milestone for the athletes, coaching staff, school and community.

The Canyon High varsity football team won their third game of the 2020 season against Midland Greenwood 48–0, bringing their overall season record to 4–0. Bryant said the win is not his, but instead the entire team’s win.

I feel so blessed to be a part of Canyon, to be a part of this program and this school district.”

— Blake Bryant, Head Football Coach

“I’m just a part of it,” Bryant said. “I feel so blessed to be a part of Canyon, to be a part of this program and this school district. I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. It really is just to raise kids and hope and pray they leave our program as better men and Christian men.”

Bryant said his motivation is the athletes he coaches.

“They are the most unbelievable people to get up and be around, and I love them to death,” Bryant said. “It means nothing to me personally, but for those kids–it was a big game for them, and for our program it was a nice win, so I was very proud of that. They’re proud of Canyon football, and we are proud of our community, so that’s what we try to do.”

A team typically plays 10 games per season, with the potential of 16 games if the team were to win a state championship and a possible 210 wins if Canyon won every regular-season game. Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator Todd Winfrey said the game is special for him because he and Bryant have coached together at Canyon High since 2000.

“Coaches usually change every two to three years, so it’s been a real family atmosphere,” Winfrey said. “When he got his 100th win, he wrote me a card and said, ‘This is your 100th too.’ He’ll be the first to tell you it’s not just a ‘him’ moment; it’s an ‘us’ moment. It’s the staff, and these kids and this school and this community more than it is Blake Bryant winning 150 games. We’ve high-fived together. We’ve cried together. We’ve buried people together. When you go through that stuff, you’re way past the friendship and the coworker, boss-employee thing.”

He’ll be the first to tell you it’s not just a ‘him’ moment; it’s an ‘us’ moment.”

— Todd Winfrey, Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Coordinator

Winfrey said Bryant has grown and matured as head coach over the years by building reliance and connections with the other coaches on staff.

“When you get your first head football job, you feel like, ‘I’ve gotta win, I’ve gotta win,’” Winfrey said. “When he was first a head coach he did everything. He was involved in every detail of everything. Now, he’s turned things over. He’ll make sure things are going right, but he lets us have some freedom. He’s developed a trust and a relationship with the coaches where he just frees them up to do their job.”

Winfrey said Bryant prioritizes connections with students because creating good men is more important than winning.

“It’s a really neat relationship,” Winfrey said. “They obviously admire him, but they genuinely love him. His ability to get with kids and speak with kids and talk and develop relationships; that’s probably the biggest thing, is to watch how he can still relate to them on a daily basis.”

He always wants you to not just learn how to play football, but become a better man after football is over.”

— Shane Whitworth, defensive line and tight end

Senior Shane Whitworth, who plays defensive line and tight end, is one of three captains on the varsity team. Whitworth said Bryant’s biggest strengths are his commitment and mindset.

“I think the experiences and the bonds you make with your friends and coaches is something you’ll never get again,” Whitworth said. “It’s taught me companionship, loyalty and to be mentally tough. For a lot of us, it’s our last time to play together. So we always know in the back of our minds when we go out on the field to give it our best. To be a Canyon Eagle.”

Whitworth said the fact he did not know the game was potentially Bryant’s 150th win speaks to his overall character. 

“We take it one week at a time, and if you ask him, he’d probably say that’s not the goal,” Whitworth said. “He’s always honest; always wants the best for you. He always wants you to not just learn how to play football, but become a better man after football is over. There’s definitely some lessons taught that apply to not just football.”

Matt Allen, a 2001 graduate of Canyon High, played as quarterback under Coach Bryant in 2000, Bryant’s first year coaching at the high school.

I do 100% believe he cares about each and every one of his players and their families–and not just them as players, but as students and then fathers.”

— Matt Allen, Canyon High graduate

“He really helped me at the quarterback position,” Allen said. “I learned a lot from him on and off the field. He’s kind of like a second father to me; a mentor and a role model. He was a player’s coach.”

After graduating, Allen played linebacker at Abilene Christian University and now works insuring professional athletes. Allen said Bryant keeps in touch with his players even after they graduate, like family.

“I have a great relationship with Coach Bryant still to this day,” Allen said. “I felt like he knew his players. I do 100% believe he cares about each and every one of his players and their families–and not just them as players, but as students and then fathers, and he cares about their character and them becoming role models and good citizens. I had coaches growing up, but in high school, that was a difference for me–knowing how much he truly cared.”

Allen said he finds pride in telling others he is from Canyon and realizes there is something truly special about the town, with Bryant being a factor in that. 

“I know it’s just another game to Coach Bryant, just knowing how humble and modest he is,” Allen said. “There was always something special about him, but it’s a huge milestone for everybody in the community at Canyon. We’re blessed and very thankful he’s been here this long to make it a better place.”

This story was originally published on The Eagle’s Tale on September 25, 2020.