As he went through the interview process for a new football coach, Nick Newman, Vilonia's athletic director, quickly recognize Chris Gunter checked the boxes.
“When he talks football, both offensively and defensively,” his knowledge is off the charts,” said Newman after Gunter, the offensive coordinator at Alma the last six years, was officially hired Monday night. “He carries himself with both humility and enthusiasm. I think he will be a great fit for Vilonia. He has worked around among the great minds in football.”
Gunter, a native of Beebe and a former player at Arkansas Tech, is young (32) and full of enthusiasm.
As an assistant at Alma, he has no learning curve for 5A West, Vilonia's conference.
He has absorbed much being around some outstanding coaches, young and old — including Steve Mullins at Arkansas Tech, Jeff Conaway at Greene County Tech (also as offensive coordinator) and Frank Vines at Alma. He served as a graduate assistant at Tulsa with Memphis coach Mike Norvell and new Arkansas coach Chad Morris.
"Coach Morris called me and gave him a good recommendation," Newman said. "That gets your attention."
Gunter favors a multiple offense.
"I think his wide-open approach will win over our community and kids," Newman said. "We have kids walking the halls who need to be in our program. As a former defensive coach, his style of multiple offense gets you worried. It's hard to get lined up with everything he throws at you.“Even though he has a multiple philosophy, his adaptabillity was very appealing He will adapt what he does to his personnel.”
Gunter replaces Ron Young, who resigned after a 1-9 season last season. He will be Vilonia's fourth head football coach in five years.
"I realize that Vilonia didn't to where it is overnight and it won't be rebuilt overnight," Gunter said. "And I think we have a great administration that will give us what we need to rebuild this."
"What's encouraging is we have some good, young players coming up," Newman said.
"Stability is very important," Newman said. “I think his concept and scheme is the type we need to bring excitement to Vilonia football and lead us back to where we should be. I think we have a good up-and-coming coach"
Gunter met his wife, Courtney, a native of Joplin, Mo., at Arkansas Tech. "She was a tough volleyball player," Gunter said, who noted his wife is also an educator and will work in the school district.
They have two children, a daughter, Collins (age 6) and Calloway, a 2-year-old-son.
"We call him Cal and that tells you about my philosophy," Gunter said. "He's named after Cal Ripken Jr, who was the toughest, hard-nosed, blue-collar baseball player I knew of growing up."