PORTAGE | Wearing a traditional red and white color scheme, Craig Buzea looked just as comfortable walking the sidelines at The Warpath on Monday night as he did when he used to be the Portage football coach.
Buzea returned to Northwest Indiana on Monday, bringing his Homewood-Floosmoor squad to town to face off against the Indians in a 7-on-7 workout.
Buzea was 107-45 in 13 years at Portage, including a run to the state title game in 1994.
"It was the greatest time of my life," Buzea said of his time at Portage. "These guys took a chance on me. Portage is still home to me. It's the first score I look at in the paper."
Larry Casbon hired Buzea in 1994 and the former Portage athletic director was on hand on Monday to see a reunion between four former Portage head coaches. Jeromy Flowers was hired by Buzea at H-F after two years coaching the Indians. Bob Mattix is now the freshmen football coach at Portage and was the head coach before Buzea took over.
"I reiterated to Craig just now that when I first looked at his resume way back then, I thought he was a brilliant offensive mind," Casbon said. "I remember writing on the bottom of his resume 'This gentleman gives you a chance to win.'"
Current Indians coach Wally McCormack was happy to bring Buzea back to Portage for a workout when the latter sent out messages looking for a place to play. McCormack played for the Indians when Buzea was an assistant coach.
"He is such a big part of this program and our goal is to get it back to where it was when he was coaching here," McCormack said.
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Portage's run to the state title game and McCormack is already in the planning stages for a reunion event that will hopefully include Buzea.
"He'll go into the Hall of Fame someday and I want him to go in as a Portage Indian," McCormack said. "We're glad to have him back and we want him to continue to have a great relationship with Portage."