Bob Price, the winningest football coach in Springfield Public Schools history, died on Tuesday in Willard.
He was 87.
Price was the Glendale head coach from 1973-96 and compiled a 146-95 record while winning seven Ozark Conference championships.
“He was tough to beat,” said Mickey Heatherly, former defensive coordinator at Parkwood High School. “He always had some good players. Of course, every time you talked to him, he’d say they weren’t good enough.”
Glendale and Parkwood — and later Joplin — had several hard-fought battles through the years, and most of the time they had conference championship implications. In 1977 the Falcons beat Parkwood 15-14 to end the Bears’ 32-game unbeaten string. Parkwood fumbled at the Glendale 3-yard-line on the game’s final play.
Price’s teams were ground-oriented to say the least. He was a firm believer that three things happen when you pass the football, and two of them are bad.
“He loved to run it,” Heatherly said. “They would get two first-and-10s and here Dewey (Combs, Parkwood head coach) would come. He’d stop and say ‘What are they doing to us?’ I said, ‘Coach, sometimes their kids play pretty good. He’d say, ‘I know, but we have to have the ball back.’
“They drove it down to the 20, and we somehow got the ball back. Dewey came by and said, ‘Now that’s more like it.’ ‘‘
Price served four years in the Navy before beginning his teaching and coaching career at Lebanon in 1959. After two years as an assistant, he became the Yellowjackets’ head coach in 1961 and guided them to a 14-3-1 mark during the next two seasons. He came to Glendale in 1963 and was assistant football coach for 10 years before becoming head coach. He also was head wrestling coach.
Price carried on a friendly feud with the Springfield News-Leader. According to multiple sources, Price said during a Springfield Quarterback Club meeting, “I read a good story about Springfield football ... in the Joplin newspaper.”
Former News-Leader sports columnist Scott Puryear was often Price’s target.
“As a fresh-out-of-college sports writer in the mid-1980s, Price both scared the crap out of me and taught me to become a better reporter,” Puryear, a McDonald County High School graduate, posted on Facebook. “It took only a little while for me to see that beneath that gruff exterior was a man who clearly loved his teams, his kids and the game of football.
“He became a good friend over the years, and I truly enjoyed our playful banter. When my son Marcus was born in 1991, Bob presented me with a gift at the Quarterback Club luncheon — a Falcons jersey with Puryear on the back and No. 67, because, as he put it, ‘If he’s as slow and un-athletic as his father, he’s bound to be a lineman.’ ‘‘
A private service will be held at a later date.