When 21-year-old Kathen Funburg was named head coach of Prue (OK) High School’s eight-man football team this summer, little did he know that he may now be the answer to a trivia question.
Funburg may be the youngest high school football head coach EVER.
According to research done by High School Football America in 2020, the youngest high school head football coaches ever were 22 years old (John Hart (Illinois) in 1985 and Joe Cattolico (California) in 1997). Most recently, 23-year-old Adam Coleman was named head coach in Burbank, California, in 2017.
How does a 21-year-old become a high school head football coach?
Funburg spent his sophomore year at East Central University in Ada as an assistant coach at nearby Sasakwa High School, another eight-man program. Then-Prue coach Zane Rose offered him a job this season as the Rockets’ offensive coordinator.
“A couple months later, Coach Rose called me and said he’s leaving for Depew,” recalled Funburg, “Two hours later, the superintendent called me and said, ‘Coach Rose is leaving, would you be interested in taking over the program?’ I said yes, it got approved and the next thing I know, I’m 21 years old and I’m the head coach of a football program (laughs).”
With just one season of eight-man football under his belt, Funburg knows he still has a lot to learn about the game. He plans on leaning on his mentors and other eight-man coaches for help.
“The eight-man community is huge,” claimed Funburg, who grew up in Milano, Texas, a small town between Austin and College Station. “It’s a well-respected community. Any questions you have, eight-man coaches are willing to help. It’s been a huge blessing so far.”
“Most head coaches, they’re older and they’re a father figure to the kids. I’m approaching it as if I’m an older brother role model. I’m only three or four years older than the kids. So far, it’s been great. They’ve responded well. They’re excited.”
Figuring out a way to coach a football team while taking a full course load this semester is something Funberg is still trying to navigate.
“That’s a good question,” said Funburg on how he’ll manage being a full-time college student during football season. “It’s tough. I’m taking summer classes right now and I’m taking 18 credit hours in the fall. It’s going to be sink or swim. I plan on swimming.”
Funburg is counting down the days to August 9th, when schools can begin practicing.
“I get butterflies every day just going to weights,” admitted Funburg with a laugh. “I think, no matter what, whether I’m in year one or year three, I’m going to have butterflies.”
Prue enjoyed success on the field recently with four straight playoff appearances. The Rockets won just one game last year and are looking to return to postseason play.
“I’m the third or fourth head coach in four years, so consistency is something Prue has struggled with,” claimed Funburg. “We’ve got a good group of seniors. I just want to keep things the same for the boys and slowly morph into what I want to do.”
“Playoffs are going to be a goal every year at Prue,” added Funburg. “That’s something I want to instill in the boys, learning how to win. They’ve been there before. We just have to get back in that pattern. Hopefully, we can get some wins and hope for the best. That’s all you can do.”