Bobby Klinck said he wanted to be a head football coach by the time he was 30.
He beat that deadline by just a few weeks in a wild series of events that took from being the defensive coordinator at Muskogee to head coach at East Central in mid-May.
Klinck replaced Ben Bowling, who was hired to replace longtime coach Travis Hill, who resigned in December amid an investigation by the school district.
Bowling then resigned following an arrest for DUI, opening the door for Klinck, who starred at Jenks before going on to play at Oklahoma and Tulsa.
“I just hit the ground running,” Klinck said of how he handled the situation when he arrived late. “I told them it was my dream job. I always told myself I wanted to be a head coach before I was 30 and I made it. I tell them, ‘Hey, if you put your mind to something, you can do it.'”
Klinck, who started his playing career at Oklahoma before finishing at Tulsa, is the second former Sooner to coach in the district, joining Coweta's Bubba Burcham.
TULSA EAST CENTRAL THE FAVORITES
With Oklahoma commit Stanvon Taylor in its secondary and Kimmie Carson, one of the top linebackers in the state, bolstering its defense, Tulsa East Central enters the season as the favorite to win District 5A-4.
“I think it can be one of the best defenses I've ever been around,” Klinck said. “They've got a lot of talent but, what's great about it is they're willing to learn and they're willing to be coached.”
East Central is one of three teams in the district that won eight or more games last season, but the other two — Tulsa Central and Pryor — are picked to finish out of the playoff picture.
COWETA A CLOSE SECOND
Coweta wasn't far behind the Cardinals, with a couple of coaches even picking the Tigers to take the district.
Burcham's team has a solid group of returners at the skill positions but must build depth on the lines.
Quarterback Hayden Holmes has plenty of targets, including Randall Smith and Adam Price, who also have the versatility to play running back as well as receiver.
Coweta has a tough nondistrict schedule that includes Class 4A state champion Wagoner, 5A power Carl Albert and Tulsa Bishop Kelley.
CENTRAL GETS LATE BOOST
With players such as quarterback D'Angelo Brewer and receiver Gerald Hardridge, Tulsa Central figured to be a team with the potential to make noise.
But the Braves received a late addition that figures to make them even better, and the new player won't even have to learn the system from scratch.
Devanta Johnson expected to transfer from Central to East Central but late in the summer decided to go back to Tulsa Central after his eligibility at East Central came into question.
Johnson, who will play wide receiver and defensive back, is one of the top recruits in the state.
1. Tulsa East Central (10-2)
2. Coweta (6-5)
3. Claremore (4-6)
4. Collinsville (4-6)
5. Tulsa Central (8-3)
6. Pryor (9-3)
7. Tahlequah (3-7)
8. Grove (4-6)
Note: Last season's records in parentheses