Fred Elder, Jim Barger, An Exemplary Coach

Coach Jim Barger

Head Football Coach 1957 -1968 and Head Wrestling Coach 1954-63

Coach Barger was the Head Football Coach at East High for 11 years. (1957-1958 to 1967-1968).  He was an assistant football coach on Coach B.A. Taylor’s staff for 3 years (1954 to 1956). His tenure as East’s Head Wrestling Coach extended eight years.

A great mentor to all who played for him, Coach Barger spent over 16 years of his life as a student, athlete and coach for East High. He was a home-bred East High Blue Ace who was loyal and successful in all he did for the East High Blue Aces.

Jim Barger graduated from Wichita High School East in 1944 with All-state Honors.  While at East, he played football for Hall of Fame Coach Stub Mayo. After graduation, Coach Barger enlisted in the Army to serve in World War II.

Following his discharge from the Army, Barger played football and wrestled at Oklahoma A&M (now Oklahoma State University).  Per Southeast Coach Dan Johnson, Barger earned recognition as an All-Conference football player and an All-American football player.  As a team member in an undefeated season, he played in the 1945 Cotton Bowl in which Oklahoma A&M defeated TCU 34-0 to win the National Championship.

Coach Barger came to East High from Norton, Kansas, High School, where he coached both football and wrestling. He became the Head Wrestling Coach at East in 1954-55. He coached the wrestling team through the 1962-63 season.

His career as East’s Head Football Coach began in the 1956-57 season. During his 11 years as the Head Football Coach, his teams won five City League titles, five second place finishes and one third place finish. He never lost to the same team twice in one season. (For a few years East, North, West and Southeast played each other twice in the same season). The only City League Coach whose teams defeated East more than they lost was friendly rival Coach Ed Krewiel of West High, by just one game.

Coach Jim Barger never bragged about his achievements as an athlete or as a coach. In 2020, he was elected to the East High Sports Hall of Fame, recognizing his outstanding career as a coach and mentor to East High’s athletes.

Coach Jim Barger talks urgently with quarterback Greg Long before a key play at a football game on a frigid evening. Center Dave Barrier intently watches his teammates on the field.

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