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Gonzales commentary: Football principle sticks in the mind of former HHS coach

Published on -10/10/2010, 7:29 PM

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He is about 5-foot-8, stalked the Hays High sidelines in the fall and his squad used a ball-control offense.

No, it's not Ryan Cornelsen, Indian fans, but another Hays High football coach from years gone by.

Arlo Buller, who coached Hays High from 1962 to 1969, was in town to help the Class of 1965 celebrate its 45th reunion as part of Homecoming weekend.

"It was really great meeting and talking with some of players we had coached, it was a good time," Buller said Saturday morning before heading back home to Dallas.

After leaving Hays, America, Buller landed in the commercial real estate business in Texas before becoming a home builder. At age 76, Buller is still building homes.

It was at a coaches' convention where Buller learned something that stuck, something that he applied in business after he got out of coaching.

"You got to get rid of what causes you to lose before you can win," Buller recalled. "That stuck with me. I use it in my business as a reminder."

That same principle helped Buller grow his business. Buller landed the job to build a home for Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, During construction, Buller learned the concrete wasn't up to the contract's specifications. So he took a jackhammer to the concrete and started over, delaying the project but doing it right. Staubach liked Buller's work, and recommended him to others.

"What it did, it cemented my relationship with Roger," Buller said. "He gave me lots of help to other people. That was my stepping stone."

Buller coached at Hillsboro before taking the Hays High job. Little did he know that he was the only applicant, because wins were few and far between for HHS at the time.

Norman Jeter was on the USD 489 Board of Education at the time Buller was hired, said Buller, who recalled Jeter telling him that if the Indians beat rival St. Joseph's Military Academy, his contract would be automatically renewed.

Whether Jeter was kidding or not, Buller did win that first meeting with the Cadets. HHS won 34-0 thanks to sophomore Ron Goates, who scored three TDs -- two on long punt returns -- before a crowd of 3,000 fans.

One of the former players Buller saw this weekend was Derwood Lynch. One year, HHS was preparing for the game against rival Great Bend, which ran the single wing. Two lead blockers protected the ball-carrier, and Buller was calling for volunteers to play defensive end and take on the blockers.

Lynch, not the biggest of players, and who seldom played, raised his hand. At first, Buller thought, "Oh, no." But Lynch volunteered, and Buller gave him a chance.

Lynch played a great game, took on the blockers and HHS won. In the locker room after the game, Buller still remembers Lynch parading around, showing off his battered and bloodied body.

"He's voted all-conference, and I had him on the bench," Buller said. "... Derwood Lynch was an eye-opener to me, about how we as coaches sometimes can overlook a player. We judge them by their physical makeup; we don't know how to look at their heart.

"He taught me a lot of lessons," Buller added.

It was a treat to see some of his former players, Buller said, adding he learned something about what's important through coaching. It's not what they did on the field under the Friday night lights that mattered. It's what happened long after those lights were turned out.

"The real indicator about a football program is what the players are like as husbands and fathers 25, 30 years later," Buller said, "their contributions to society."

If the Indian players back then were anything like their coach, it would seem they turned out just fine.a

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