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AFTON — Fred Peery, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach at McLoud, has been named head football coach at Afton High School.

Peery was hired during the Afton Board of Education meeting on Thursday, April 5.

“I am surprised about it probably as much as anybody,” Peery said. “The thing that struck me was that they’ve only had two coaches in the past 20 year. From a coaching standpoint, that speaks volumes”

Peery succeeds Zach Gardner, now head coach at Miami High School, takes over an Afton program that won the Class A state championship in December.

Gardner was 99-33 in 11 seasons at Afton.

Prior to that, Jerry Springer served as the Eagles’ head coach from 1998 to 2006.

“We have a quality individual that will be heading up the program,” Afton superintendent Randy Gardner said. “I think the success we have had in past year was attractive. We had a good pool of applicants, quality applicants who wanted to be here. That part was very positive.”

Gardner said the field was narrowed to 10 then Peery was part of a final five.

“The other thing I liked was that all the administrators and others are good Christian people,” Peery said. “A lot of them have been there for several years.”

The 2017 Eagles ran the table in Class A, going 14-0, including a 44-12 romp over Crescent in the state championship game at Owasso.

Peery, who was head football coach at Wellston from 2011 to 20013, had been at McLoud since 2014.

Over the past 10 years, Peery has been part of programs that finished as a Class 2A runner-up in 2008 (at Chandler), was a semifinalist in 2004 (Seminole) and reached the quarterfinals in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

Peery has seen the Eagles’ prowess in the weight room from afar: his powerlifting teams won state titles in 2006 at Chandler and 2007 at Wellston.

The Redskins were powerlifting regional champs in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

He coached several individual national powerlifting champions and several state placers.

McLoud won back-to-back eighth grade state powerlifting championships under Peery, a graduate of the University of Central Oklahoma.

“I have seen Coach Gardner around, have seen the things he does and have seen how the kids operate,” Peery said. “There’s just some great, great kids there. With all those things together, I think anybody would want to take that job.

“Right now, it’s the top job in Class A.”

Wellston won the academic state championship in 2013.

While there, he helped raise more than $15,000 for the football program, part of which was used to purchase new helmets for every varsity player.

Peery was assistant defensive coordinator, offensive line and linebacker coach at Chandler, which won district titles in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

Four out of five years, the Lions went deep into the playoffs.

Neal Bacon, now at Depew, broke into the coaching profession at Picher-Cardin.

“He’s one of the greatest coaches I have ever been around,” Peery said.

Seminole went 23-2 during his two seasons there, where he coached running backs, defensive linemen, kickers and special teams for hall of fame coach Mike Snyder.

The Chieftains were a Class 3A semifinalist in 2004, going 12-1, and reached the 3A quarterfinals, finishing with an 11-1 record,

Peery also coached at Meeker, Wewoka and Choctaw, where he did his student teaching.

“My thought process is to make the transition as smooth as possible, don’t come in and change stuff — keep it the same as much as possible, then adjust as we go,” Peery said. “I am a big believer in helping kids out, not just in football, but in their lives.”