“He's a child at heart. He's always laughing and playing,” said assistant coach Michael Brewer, who has been with Raper since Centennial opened. “We're old-school as a staff, but we realize we have to engage young people. We can't be distant.
“Sometimes we have to be hard and get on them, but coach is ready to play all the time.”
Ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, the Bison are among the favorites for the gold ball again this weekend. And while he promised some undisclosed silliness if his team wins, he isn't letting them think beyond Thursday's 8:30 p.m. game against Verdigris at Yukon.
“We'll be at the first game, Thursday at 8:30, and that's the only promise I can make,” Raper said. “We'll show up and play, and that's as far as we're thinking right now.”
Whether or not the school wins another state championship, Raper is making an impact within the walls of Centennial High School.
“One of the things we preach here is that our students should have high expectations, and he carries that to his players,” Johnson said. “We all know that athletes are leaders in the school, just because they're athletes. So that trickles down, up and sideways to the other students. That message of having high expectations reaches beyond the basketball team.”