Growing up in the Quaker State, Bill Burford was no stranger to wrestling.
In a family where his dad coached and his brother wrestled, the Harbor Creek native took up the sport when he was 4 years old.
"I'm an old school Pennsylvania guy," Burford said. "It grew on me in my younger years and it's extended into my family. I go to Conseco (Fieldhouse) every year for the state finals. Football's my first love, but wrestling's not far behind."
An assistant coach with the Boone Grove football team, Burford has taken over as the Wolves' head wrestling coach, replacing Mark Line.
"I'm in it for the long haul," said Burford, who is the superintendent for the Course at Aberdeen. "I bleed blue and white. I love Boone Grove football and I love Boone Grove wrestling. I'm very excited about it. It's a tough school to teach wrestling at. It takes a special kid to wrestle. It's always been a basketball school, but we're going to do our best to make it go."
Athletic Director Doug Knutson, who worked with Burford while he was the head football coach, likes his passion.
"I was most impressed with his enthusiasm and intensity," Knutson said. "His knowledge of wrestling and dedication should prove to be a big asset. (He) has sparked a renewed interest from several student-athletes."
The Wolves finished last season with four wrestlers. They start this season with 19, many of them football players.
"That was the objective," Burford said. "We're going to try to kill two birds with one stone. We're not pulling any punches. We told them the first practice, we're not going to do a lot of cutting weight. We're going to lift three days a week. We're going to gain weight. We're going to use (wrestling) to get better hand fighting skills, better lateral movement."
Burford has already been involved with his sons Jake, Zach and Luke in the youth club, which has more than 40 kids. He is joined by Mike Poynter, Boone's former head coach, returning assistant Tony Girgenti, who wrestled at Portage, and Burford's brother Chuck.
"The bottom line is it all starts when they're young," Burford said. "You get 'em at a young age, it's an advantage. I think the potential is there. There are a lot of good athletes in the school. They just need the mat experience, to get a taste of it. We're thinking big. We'll go through some growing pains, but we're going to strap it up and get after people, and whatever happens, happens."