CHOCTAW — While he was interviewing for the head coaching job with the Choctaw football program, Todd Dilbeck looked at facilities, talked to administrators and staff, and researched the state of the program.
And he felt a familiar vibe.
“It really parallels a lot to Mustang when we went there,” Dilbeck said. “They have better facilities at Choctaw than what we had back then. We had to build a lot of the facilities at Mustang.
“They passed a bond to improve schools and athletic facilities in Choctaw a couple years ago. You can tell it's a community that's excited about the growth and everything that's going on.”
Adding to the Mustang connection, Dilbeck brought in longtime friend Ty Prestidge, who had been his offensive coordinator, then replaced him as head coach at Mustang when Dilbeck left seven years ago. And others from the Mustang staff are likely to join them at Choctaw as well.
Dilbeck's road from Mustang to Choctaw was unique. He left Mustang to join Todd Graham's coaching staff at Rice University as the offensive line coach and run game coordinator, but Graham — now at Arizona State — was only there one year before heading to Tulsa.
“He gave me the opportunity to go to Tulsa with him,” Dilbeck said. “But I just missed the relationships and the ministry with kids. I missed making an impact with kids, because it's different at the high school level than the college level.
“I always had that golden aspiration to coach at the Division I level, and I got that opportunity. But I missed making that impact and setting that foundation for kids in high school”
So Dilbeck looked for another high school job, landing at Alma (Ark.) High School, where he took over for the school's legendary coach, Frank Vines, who was retiring.
Dilbeck's teams went 35-31-1 in six years at Alma.
After the death of his father in November, and with all of his children still living in Oklahoma City, Dilbeck started looking to get back to the metro area.