HS FOOTBALL: Savanna tabs Rick Cherry to lead the Bulldogs

·3 min read

Jun. 9—The Bulldogs have found their new pack leader.

Savanna Public Schools named assistant Rick Cherry as its newest head football coach, and he's already been hard at work with the team this offseason. He said that since he's been with the program, not only is he familiar with his team, but that they've been continuing to build on the foundation that was built.

"I've been doing this for 36 years and I've been a head coach before," he said. "And we really didn't want to change some of the stuff that we were doing."

Cherry is a 1978 graduate of Muldrow High School. After high school, he attended Northeastern Oklahoma State University in Tahlequah, where he played defensive line and graduated with a bachelors degree in mathematics.

He got his first coaching job at Atoka High School, where he spent nine years — serving the last four years as head coach. He next moved to Madill High School, where he served as the defensive coordinator for six years. After that time, Cherry returned to Atoka in 2001 until his move to Savanna in 2020.

Cherry assisted the Bulldogs the next two seasons, and was elevated to head coach following the resignation of Taylor Barr in March 2022. Barr led the program from 2019-2021, totaling a 8-21 overall record.

He described his coaching style, saying he likes to run right at teams on both sides of the ball.

"Offensively, I'm a 'four yards and a cloud of dust' type of guy. I believe if you're going to win, you need to be able to run the football. And when they come in to stop the run, that's when you're ready to throw it," he said. "Defensively, we want to stop what (opposing teams) do best, and make them do something they're not as good at."

Since Cherry has been with the team the last few years, he already has knowledge of the talent he'll be leading now that he's at the helm.

"It's going to be a pretty good mix (of talent)," he said. "We've got more seniors than we've had the last couple of years, but we've still got a lot of young guys that are going to get a lot of playing time. So it's still a pretty good mix."

The Bulldogs will open the 2022 slate later this year as they face off against Warner to begin their season. But before they get there, Cherry said they'll still be busy working on themselves this summer.

"The kids have been real receptive to it. Part of the reason I've done it is they've talked me into it themselves," he said. "We've had good turnouts at our summer pride, and the kids are working hard — doing what they need to do to get bigger, stronger, and faster."

Contact Derek Hatridge at dhatridge@mcalesternews.com.