How Bolton football's Mark Teague inspiring through coaching after cancer

LaMar Gafford
Alexandria Town Talk

Bolton High football coach Mark Teague remembers buying his first DVD from Championship Productions 20 years ago.

At that time, long before he was a cancer survivor, Teague was a linebackers coach but aspired to be a head coach.

“It was on running a zone read,” Teague said. “I haven’t run a zone read a day in my life as a head coach, but I still remember that and have that DVD.”

Bolton football coach Mark Teague has a three-part series on the single wing offense through Championship Productions.

Things have come full circle for Teague, 51, who has his own series teaching the single wing offense for Championship Productions.

The single wing offense typically focuses on the run with two receivers or tight ends on the line of scrimmage with the offensive line. Another receiver, the wingback, lines up behind the line or in the backfield with the quarterback and two running backs.

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According to Teague, the company reached out to him after John Curtis coach J.T. Curtis, who has his own series on the veer option and 50 front defense, made a recommendation after seeing stats from the Bears’ strong running game. In 2019, Bolton averaged 323.9 yards rushing, scored 32 touchdowns and had three games of over 500 rushing yards.

Teague ignored the e-mails from the company at first, but eventually he read and replied to one of them and was intrigued at the opportunity.

“I didn’t think much of it as anything other than something that I can chalk to my legacy as a coach, but the response behind it has been overwhelming,” Teague said. “I’m blessed and thankful for the opportunity.”

Teague estimates that production took 13 hours and he needed 50 takes to do his 20-second intro, but everything flowed naturally once he became settled.

Bolton coach Mark Teague

“Once you get in and going through your stuff on the board, as a coach, you get into your element,” Teague said. “One of the things they told me was, ‘Talk as if you’re teaching other coaches.’ Once they told me that, it became a lot easier and I got a lot more comfortable.”

The battles of building a compprogram were not the only thing he faced during his six years at Bolton.

Teague is a two-time cancer survivor – diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma in his throat in 2019 and prostate cancer in 2020.

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Teague mentioned that he was drinking water after running bleachers in 2019 and felt something in his throat that would not go away. Originally, his doctors said it was his sinuses, but then he noticed that he had a lump on the left side of his neck.

After the ear, nose and throat specialist referred him to another doctor because of his insurance provider, he received the diagnosis.

“Hands down, (Dr. Daniel Noah) saved my life,” Teague said. “He said, ‘We’re going to make sure it’s not anything bad,” and then he came back and told me what it was. Then the journey began. He looked at me and said, ‘We found it. It’s going to be a tough journey, but you’re going to get through it and you’re going to be better in the end for it. We’re going to get you taken care of.’”

Teague spent his time at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and had to go through 33 rounds of radiation, which took its toll.

Keeping him positive was not only his faith in God and his promise to his team, his mother and his kids that he would beat cancer, but remembering his journey in becoming a head coach.

“I never asked why,” Teague said. “I just trusted in God and trusted that this happened for a reason. That reason may very well be the fact that I could be a testimony to somebody else that’s going through something similar.”

Those cancer survivors were testimonies to him, too, as his goal was to ring the bell signifying the end of his radiation treatments.

Each time he heard their joy and cheers from their families, it pushed him to complete the journey.

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“That gets you through those tough days,” Teague said. “You hear someone else ringing that bell, that pushes you. When I walked to that bell, it felt like I was walking in heaven. To ring that bell, that was the most gratifying, because you know it’s done and you’ve beat it. I get emotional thinking about it. It’s probably one of the more gratifying days of my entire life.”

Sharing his testimony on beating cancer has been helpful in speaking about his coaching style.

Partnering with Championship Productions opened numerous avenues for him as he has talked on Zoom to other coaches and on podcasts about his technique.

He also was invited to coaching clinics in Illinois and Ohio over the summer, and schools have reached out to him to help install the single wing in their programs.

Importantly, this has not only enhanced his brand, but it also helped Bolton gain exposure.

Bolton coach Mark Teague (center) looks on during the 2016 Squirrel Bowl Game vs. Buckeye.

“Any time you can bring exposure to the high school, it says a lot,” Teague said. “I’m eternally grateful for Bolton for bringing me as head football coach and opening the door for me for being able to put together a DVD series.”

“I tell our kids all the time, ‘You never play for me, you play for the blue and white of Bolton. I kept that in mind a lot as I was going through the production of this DVD series, knowing that it was a privilege to be able to do this for this school with all the history and everything behind it.”