Purchase photos

Crough talks Great Bend

4/3/2014

By CONOR NICHOLL

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Tony Crough grew up in Garden City and played football at Fort Hays State University. His wife, Chrisy, also attended FHSU and is a Hays High School graduate. With the Tigers, Crough played for Jeff Leiker and Tim O'Connor, coaches who still resonate with him today.

"Coach OC, I learned a lot about football," Crough said. "He is a football guy and a real cerebral guy."

Crough enjoyed the camaraderie of his teammates and playing in Hays. He collected all-RMAC honorable mention honors at linebacker in 2003, and is tied for fifth in school history for longest fumble return, a 40-yarder at Adams State on Sept. 16, 2000.

"Really helped grow my passion for western Kansas," Crough said.

On Monday, Crough, 33, met a longtime goal when he took over as Great Bend's head football coach. Crough replaced Bo Black, who went to Hays High after 13 years as the head coach of the Panthers. Black took over for Ryan Cornelsen, who headed to Hutchinson High School after five seasons at HHS.

Around 10 years ago, Crough set a goal to become a head coach. But he first spent two years as a Rule 10 coach in Andover and then coached for seven years in Texas, five of them at a private school in Arlington and two at DeSoto, a large school.

A friend called Crough about an open assistant job at Great Bend. Last May, Crough interviewed with Black and took over as defensive coordinator. At the time, the Crough's twin boys, now 14 months, were four months old.

"Excited to be around grandparents," Crough said.

Crough didn't expect the Great Bend job to come open, but applied for the position shortly after Black resigned. Crough told Great Bend athletic director Dave Meter that, "I was the guy for the job."

Great Bend had the position open for several months before Crough took over this week.

"Really excited to get going," Crough said on Wednesday afternoon.