There was nothing flashy about Chris Jensen as he spoke to a crowd of more than 200 people inside the Moore Highland West Junior High gymnasium on Monday night.
But after the new Southmoore High School football coach was through presenting his principles on winning, academics, and attitude, people began to circle the 6-foot-4, 38-year-old redhead. Nearly an hour later — after the bleachers had emptied and the lights had dimmed — Jensen continued to field questions from parents and prospective players wanting to hear more about the first-year varsity football program.
The Southmoore SaberCats will open their inaugural season against Edmond Memorial on Sept. 4. Between now and then, Jensen is tasked with building a Class 6A program from scratch.
"From the ground up, it's going to be everything, right down to the paper clips,” Jensen said.
Judging by community and student reaction so far, he's on the right track. Jensen said 87 football players showed up for the first day of offseason workouts on Monday, then more than 100 over the next three days. More than 200 parents attended a meeting with the coach on Monday night.
Jensen is no stranger to challenges. As a student at OU, the Lawton High graduate decided to walk on to the Sooners football team, then coached by Gary Gibbs. The result: An offensive line starter for the first game of his senior season.
After his playing career, Jensen spent 14 years as an assistant coach at various schools. He was turned down more than once for head coaching positions. As an assistant coach in the Moore School District, most recently at Westmoore, Jensen heard rumors of a new high school being built. When the rumors became reality in 2005, Jensen knew where he wanted to be.
"Ever since when I was here with (former Moore head coach) Tommy Noles … I always saw myself as a head coach at Southmoore,” Jensen said.