The whiteboard inside the Plainview High School coaches’ office isn’t blank just because it’s summer break.

The whiteboard inside the Plainview High School coaches’ office isn’t blank just because it’s summer break.

It’s filled with new sets of X’s and O’s and potential lineups. The architect of the plays wraps up a day of offseason drills in the empty locker room and is already decked out in what could be a game-day coaching outfit to stand before a full clubhouse.

The coach, Chris Berus, has been on the job only five days, but he’s ready for kickoff.

“When you’re on the field with kids, you’re in your element,” Plainview’s new head man said Friday.  “The most unsettling part about the job is the administrative side of it. That’ll be a work in progress. Hopefully, from now until week 15 (of the season), we’ll be at it.”

Plainview has played as many as 13 weeks in a season, it’s highest finish a semifinal appearance in Class 3A two years ago. That was Corey Cole’s first year as the Indians’ head coach.

But Cole in April accepted an assistant coaching position at alma mater Sulphur, opening the door for Berus to become a head coach.

Since then, Berus has traveled back and forth from his Midwest City home –– he’s trying to sell his house there –– just to hit the ground running at his new place of employment. The Indians had begun spring football drills the week before Berus officially took over, but he was on the field observing his talent and taking notes.

Any noticeable changes so far?

“The mental part of it; we’ve changed terminology of our plays,” Berus said. “The coaching staff’s done an unbelievable job getting the kids used to how things will be done.”

Players’ parents had a chance to see the new guy in town at a Thursday meeting, and Berus said parental support is very positive.

“He’s a pretty straightforward guy; I can tell that not having been around him long,” said Shawn Davis, whose son Wes is a rising senior on the Indians. “There should be a good chemistry there (among coaches). I know Wes, being around him a week, has talked highly of him.”

Berus, a Denton native, brought a strong football resume to Plainview. He spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at Carl Albert High, having been part of a state championship in 2006 and helped the Titans make the title game again in 2008. He coached the running backs and defensive ends this past season.

Before that, the former East Central University player spent 10 seasons at Ada, assisting brothers Gary McBroom (1996-99) and Larry McBroom (2000-03) along the way.

“I got my direction in coaching when I volunteered at Ada in 1996,” Berus said. “I didn’t know when, where or how I was going to become a head coach, but my direction, my passion, all the things it takes to be successful, I got it there.”

Berus said he and Larry McBroom, now the Ardmore head coach, haven’t talked much since Plainview hired him on May 21, but when they do, it’s never about X’s and O’s.
“It’s about how we can grow young men into successful individuals,” Berus said. “I can’t hold a candle to that man.”

Don’t mistake any expectation set for Berus as pressure he might feel because it isn’t pressure to him. But he said the Indians won’t compromise what is right.

“We’re just focused on being the very best we can, whatever it is, the very best,” he said.

He’s experienced being the best as an assistant coach at two schools. Perhaps he’ll do the same as a head coach and give Plainview its first state championship gold ball.

“I think coming from Carl Albert and Ada, he’s got all the credentials in the world,” Davis said.

 “Being at Carl Albert, you can be pretty selective,” he said. “You can be with a state championship-caliber program like Carl Albert, or you can see what you can do as a head coach. Look at Plainview, it’s a good, solid program with a good history.

“When you’re in this business long enough, you figure out what you want to do.”

I.C. Murrell