By Paul Campbell
The Buffalo Reflex
BUFFALO—At first glance, coaching football and being pastor of a church may seem like a strange combination. On the other hand, some might argue that right now the Buffalo football program can use all the help it can get — from the heavenly skies or otherwise.
In any event, the man of the hour is Boone Middleton, Buffalo’s new football coach who also has been pastor of the Golden Avenue Baptist Church in west Springfield for the past 19 years. Middleton’s first game was Sept. 3 (a 44-6 loss at Hollister) only three days after accepting the position.
Former coach Ed Hula resigned a few days before the opening game at Fair Grove.
Middleton has plenty of experience in football, having coached Marionville High School and later the junior high for a total of 18 years. In all, he taught 24 years at Marionville, retiring after the 2002-03 school year.
From 1984-90 his record as head coach was 46-24. Marionville won the Mid-Lakes Conference and made it to the playoffs in 1985 and 1989. He was named Coach of the Year in 1985.
What led to Middleton accepting this coaching position, especially after the season had already started?
He told the Buffalo Reflex that he was minding his own business, eating at Cracker Barrel, when he received a phone call from Brad Roweton, activities director at Buffalo High School.
“I told Brad that I was the wrong guy for the job, but he was persistent, although he didn’t pressure me,” said Middleton.
He first told Roweton he would think about it, but later accepted.
“Something in the back of my mind told me that this was a door opening for me and an opportunity,” he said.
He said he talked it over with his congregation, which is more than 100 strong attendance-wise every Sunday, and church members encouraged him to accept the position.
Middleton stressed that it’s a big challenge coming in after the season has started, especially in terms of assessing talent.
“The conflicts concerning the football program have thrown a hitch into our working together and our timing,” he said. “Right now we are working heavily on attitude and picking each other up. It’s a cliché to say, but we are going one day at a time. I’m frustrated and the boys are frustrated, but they seem to be receptive toward me.”
He said the key things the coaches were working on in early September were to get the players to be more aggressive on defense and to try to get some sustained drives going on offense.
Middleton emphasized that he loves to work with players one-on-one, and his biggest strength as an instructor is working with the offensive line. Most coaches believe football games are won in the trenches, and to accomplish this you have to have a good offensive and defensive line.
In his interview with the Reflex, Middleton said he was highly interested in watching a junior varsity game to see how good the JV was at that point.
Middleton grew up in Adrian, near Kansas City, and he graduated from Southwest Baptist University. He and his wife, Karen, moved to the Ozarks in 1975, and they have three sons.