For the first time in 12 years, Lawton High will have a new head coach patrolling the sideline.
Randy Breeze resigned from his position earlier this week, making the news official during a phone call with The Lawton Constitution.
Breeze spent 28 years with the Wolverines -- the first 16 coming as an assistant coach. In total, Breeze has 43 years of experience coaching within the Lawton Public Schools (LPS) system.
During his time at the helm, he led LHS to a 103-37 record (73.6 winning percentage) and several semifinal and state championship appearances. The Wolverines failed to win a state title under Breeze, but he is responsible for boosting the program to its powerhouse status in Class 6A.
Since Class 6A split in 2014, LHS has played in the championship game twice. Only Bixby, which beat the Wolverines both times, has more appearances in the title game during that span.
Although Breeze just made his decision public, he said hanging up his coaching hat has been on his mind for months.
"I started thinking about it during the (spring) semester, and I realized we were getting a new principal and a new athletic director, so I thought I'd just wait and let them get in their positions and let them settle in," Breeze said.
Despite rumors of his departure beginning to circulate on social media networks on Wednesday, Breeze made sure to tell everyone in his family before he passed the news to local and state media. Among the family members were his wife of 43 years, Brenda, and his son Ryan, who was on Breeze's staff as an offensive coordinator for the entirety of the 12-year tenure.
Breeze said informing his family of the decision was the hardest part of the resignation process.
"I talked to my family, and they pretty much 100 percent didn't want me to do it -- they wanted me to stay," Breeze said. "And I understand why, but I just felt like it was time. I feel like I've got the best job in the world, but I've had it for a long time. I think it's time to get out of the way, and I can leave now happy and healthy.
"LHS is full of great students, great teachers, great administrators and it's a good place to be, but I got the feeling I was holding back a little bit. I've been there a long time, and the timing was perfect."
Ryan Breeze said the one thing he wants the people of Lawton to remember the most about his father's storied career is the turnaround job Randy Breeze did when he took over in 2006.
The Wolverines won five district titles under Breeze, missing the playoffs only twice. His best season came in 2010, when LHS finished 12-1 -- the only loss coming in the semifinals to eventual state champion Tulsa Union, 48-41, in two overtimes.
Breeze churned out only one losing season -- a 4-6 outing in 2008.
"In our first year, we were four homecomings," Ryan Breeze said. "People felt like we were an easy 'W' that first year. Now you look at our recent success of going to the final two of the past four years, and that's really hard to do at that level. He was having a great deal of success even before the 6A split. The split benefited us, but it's not like we weren't winning before. We won district titles quite a bit. We never had a rebuilding year, ever."
Randy Breeze might be leaving the program in a coaching capacity, but nothing will ever diminish his love for LHS. Wolverine fans will likely be seeing a lot of him in the stands every week.
"Being around young kids all day keeps you younger," Randy Breeze said. "I love the kids, and I want to be around them. I don't want to be head-coach close to them, but I want to be at the games cheering for them and patting them on the back after the game is over. We're blessed with some amazing athletes, and it's going to be an exciting year."
With Randy Breeze gone, LPS finds itself in quite the predicament.
With practices beginning in just more than two weeks on Aug. 6, the school district doesn't have much time to fill the hole left by the coaching legend. The application and interviewing process must be quick and efficient.
The LPS athletic director, Gary Dees, told The Constitution the school district is aiming for a smooth operation, with plans to make a hire within the next two weeks.
Randy Breeze said though he's disappointed he won't be included in the hiring process, he understands it is not his place to decide his successor.
However, there is a candidate he has in mind who he thinks could get the job done and provide a seamless transition for the program.
"Ryan's got so much passion for Lawton High, it's unbelievable," Randy Breeze said. "I've been around some great football coaches, and his work ethic is unbelievable. You can't imagine it until you walk in and hear him coach a weight room. I feel like Lawton High School has one of the premier football programs in the state of Oklahoma. The main reason that is is Ryan's work ethic. Not just on the football field, but in the weight room, in the hallways and in the classroom.
"I think most people see that, and most people would be excited to see Ryan get the head job."
Randy Breeze's praise is not unfounded.
Ryan Breeze has been the LHS track coach for six years, and he has a proven record of improving athletes under his watchful eye. His ability to manage athletes who participate on the gridiron and on the oval is an undeniable asset to have within a sports department.
"The best thing about him being the track coach is so many football players who ran track were so much better the next year," Randy Breeze said. "It's amazing the improvement they made in the their 40 time and their first-step quickness. We had linebacker a couple of years ago who ran a 5.2-second 40 and had no business running track, but he went out for track and made All-State in track, improving to a 4.6-second 40. It's amazing how much the track program has enhanced the football program."