January's Coaching Posts
January's Coaching Posts
1969-12-31 00:00:00

LULING HIRES (1/26/10)
When Luling coach Robert Dean unexpectedly passed away back on October 8th, the tragedy of the 2009 season was cemented. Recovering from the mid-season death of your coach is an impossible thing for high schoolers to do, but despite it all, the team rallied together to seal a playoff big by season's end. After that, the results were irrelevant -- such an accomplishment was already an astounding victory.

But as that era closes, a new one is opening, as Luling has hired Michael Waldie, a 15-year coaching veteran who spent his last season as the defensive coordinator at 4A Livingston. Luling formally replaces James Howell and Gene Scoggin, who served as the interim coaches after Dean's death.

McAllen Rowe has also hired, roping in Paul Reyes, a long-tenured McAllen assistant. Talk about wooing the enemy! Reyes has been a part of the McHi staff since 1992, and over the last four years has served as the team's offensive coordinator. He had great success during that time, but the Rowe job is a tough one -- it's got one playoff berth to show for the past five years and hasn't hit the .500 mark since 2004.

SA Brennan, a new school in Northside ISD, was smart in its new hire -- Steve Basore, who served as SA Brandeis' defensive coordinator last season, will open the school this season. Basore was instrumental in getting the Bronco program off the ground over the past two years, so he's well-equipped to help power Brennan to early success.

And lastly, Giddings' Derek Fitzhenry is staying put. It had been reported by numerous outlets that he would be leaving the Buffs for Pasadena Dobie, and even Fitzhenry himself was quoted as more or less confirming it. But given a chance to think things over, he chose to stay at Giddings, where his son Spencer is a sophomore. Fitzhenry's run at Giddings has been impressive -- 67 wins in 7 years -- so retaining him is a key move.

Until Matt Elliott took over in 2006, San Antonio Southwest hadn't finished a season with eight or more wins since 1998, when it posted 10 under Les Goad. Since 1960, the only other double-digit win season besides that one was in 1985, when Sonny Detmer guided Southwest to fame. All in all, since 1960, Southwest had just three total seasons with eight or more wins and just seven playoff appearances.

Just make's Elliott's work all the more impressive, doesn't it?

Elliott, who is leaving to take the head coach spot at New Braunfels Canyon, is without question the best coach in program history. His 10-1 mark in 2009 means he has finished all four of his seasons at the helm with eight or more wins and has never missed the postseason. In just his first season at Southwest, he took a team that hadn't enjoyed a winning season since 2001 and immediately got it to 8-3. No matter which angle you look at, he has excelled, and his run-centric offense has been one of the best in the San Antonio area since Day 1. Needless to say, New Braunfels Canyon, which hasn't had a double-digit win season since 2005, is making a good move.

And way out east, Longview Spring Hill is close to hiring a new coach, and former Southlake QB coach Bill Poe (another member of the famous coaching family) is expected to be approved today as the school's new coach. We'll keep you Poe-sted. Pun intended.

Talk about a mood swing -- up in McKinney, fans aren't going to know what to do with themselves.

McKinney has hired Lake Highlands defensive coordinator Jeff Smith to fill the head coach spot vacated by Bobby Reyes, who retired following the season. Under Reyes, McKinney put up some breathtaking offensive numbers, especially in the passing game. But the defense struggled mightily, and some of the losing scores were painful to see -- scoring 50+ and still loosing became en vogue for the Lions, who lost to Highland Park in the first round each of the past two seasons.

Smith could change that. He orchestrated one of the better defenses in the Metroplex at Lake Highlands, but he also worked alongside a strong offensive unit that could put points up with the best of them. McKinney fans are going to want a culture change to a certain extent -- good defense still wins high school games. But they don't want to sacrifice offense completely. McKinney AD Shawn Pratt, who knows the area better than most, told ESPNDallas much the same. But Smith has the pieces in place to succeed right away -- especially if he goes with the 4-3 style defense that helped McKinney close out the year on a hot streak.

Thanks to some very helpful readers, we've got a lot to talk about today. But no news can match that of Amarillo's long-awaited announcement of its new head coach after Brad Theissen moved up to the athletic director position: Burleson's Mel Maxfield.

One thing is readily apparent -- Amarillo wanted experience up top, and it got that. Maxfield has won 174 games in his career, meaning a solid tenure with the Sandies could get him into the 200 club. And he's lost less than 90 games, so he's a winner, no question. His Burleson teams have run the ball well during his time there, so his strategy should fit in well with the city's atmosphere. Originally the head man at Forney when it was a 3A school, he's spent the last eight at Burleson, where he made the postseason five times. He also went to a title game with Forney in 2000.

Maxfield isn't the only coaching veteran taking a new job. It's also been reported that Mount Belvieu Barbers Hill is bringing in Ronnie Gage, who led Lewsiville to two state titles in '93 and '96. Gage has spent the past three seasons at Austin College, where he has posted a combined 13-17 record. But his ground-based offense could get Barbers Hill back in the winning column in a hurry. He's a highly experienced name, and he'll also serve as the athletic director, a position he filled at Lewisville as well. Of all the coaching changes I've seen this year, this is one of the best hires. He could make a difference right away.

2A Troup has also made its choice -- Chuck Griffin, who has spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at 5A Georgetown. Georgetown struggled mightily in 2009, but it was a pretty solid group in '08 behind QB Garrett Gilleland, so Griffin has some credentials to offer. He'll take over for John Eastman, who resigned at the end of the '09 year. This is Griffin's first head coaching stop, but he's been an assistant at Borger, Midland, Temple and Hardin-Simmons.

After all the success Ganado has had down in 1A recently -- like two straight state semifinal appearances -- you would think coach Mike Rabe would be tempted to stay longer. But Rabe is moving up to 3A Waco Connally, which needed a new guy after promoting Steve Hoffman to interim status earlier in the year. Rabe has been hot the past two years at Ganado (even if the first two in 2A were tougher), but Connally is a tough gig right now, and making the playoffs may not be the immediate step. This could be a work in progress.

And lastly, three new schools have all brought in new coaches -- George Ranch (Trevor White), League City Clear Falls (Mike Zierlein) and Round Rock Cedar Ridge (Todd Ford) have all hired. None of the three start varsity play until 2012, so we're a ways off from seeing their product on the field. But the first two have previous head coaching experience, and Ford was a former Longhorn quarterback and the offensive coordinator at UNT. So he's seen the good and the bad. All three hires should prove interesting.

This season, like the last, is giving us an offseason of wild movement. Multiple coaching superstars are leaving the high school ranks altogether, as Kent Bachtel, Lloyd Alexander, Mark Reeve and Kyle Lynch -- most of whom coached in at least a state semifinal last season -- are either moving to the college ranks, retiring, or pursuing other opportunities. Add another name to the list -- Lake Travis' Chad Morris is off to Tulsa.

The Cavs' head man is going to be the Golden Hurricane's co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach next season, and even though he was only in Austin for two years, Morris coached Lake Travis to two straight state titles and a 32-0 record. With him at the helm and a number of seniors back in the fold for 2010, the Cavaliers surely would have been a heavy favorite for their fourth consecutive championship in 2010. That's obviously different now, but a coaching change made little difference in 2007, when Jeff Dicus left after winning LT's first title.

As for right now, Hank Carter, the defensive coordinator, has been named the interim coach and will be considered as a candidate if he applies for the job. But filling Morris' shoes will be tough -- in his career, he's now won three state titles and finishes with an overall record of 162-25, which is astounding. This job opening will attract the top candidates in Texas, and when lists of potential replacements start surfacing, it should be a who's who of top-name coaches.

Also, one of the multiple south Texas and Valley schools starting varsity play in 2010 has a new coach as well -- 1A Lasara has hired David Contreras.

Before we get any further into today's moves and news, it's worth noting that I threw up a little misinformation on the site yesterday. I originally reported that Danny Padron, whom Cuero-ex Mark Reeve is joining at Texas Lutheran, was actually replacing Reeve with the Gobblers. If you sent me a correction, thanks -- in my rush to finish up our postseason magazine (which went to print yesterday), I misinterpreted the given information. That has been corrected, and we'll make sure something similar doesn't happen again.

As for today's moves, at least one outlet in the Rio Grande Valley is reporting that Rio Grande City's new high school, which doesn't have a name yet, is hiring area native and former Texas A&M-Kingsville QB Abel Gonzalez. Gonzalez has spent the last four years as Rio Grande City's offensive coordinator (averaged almost 30 PPG in 2009), so I think it's pretty clear what the program's early focus will be. If history is any indication, the new school will struggle in 2010 and make a marked improvement the following year -- that seems to be the way of things right now.

The search for Amarillo's new coach has involved a number of candidates, but the local paper is setting the record straight on a few. One early name was Rodney Allison, the former Texas Tech quarterback that graced our 1977 cover. But he's out of the race since he doesn't have a Texas teaching certificate. Eddie Metcalf, of Stratford fame, doesn't look to be in the picture, either. But one who is involved would be Bushland man David Flowers, who has applied after taking Bushland to the 2A DII finals in just its fourth year of existence.

And Waco Midway didn't take too long to peg its replacement for retired Kent Bachtel -- it appears the next Midway man will be former Allen assistant Terry Gambill, who served as an assistant coach on staff when the Eagles won their state title in 2008.

It's also worth noting that judgment was handed down in the case of former Katy Morton Ranch coaches Scott Svendsen and Jeremy Orsagh -- those two and one other were implemented in some serious allegations of wrong doing within the program, including tampering with students' academic records and illegal "recruiting". The UIL seemed to think they were serious as well, and the pair has been banned from coaching until 2012 and Morton Ranch placed on two-year probation. It was determined that Cody Haug, the third coach caught up in this, committed no violations and is still employed by Katy ISD. For more info, check out Jenny Dial's story in the Chronicle. She did a good job.

Seems like the college football world has turned itself upside down in a hurry, hasn't it? Carroll's gone, Kiffin is moving, Meyer is out, Mangino is out, Leach is out ... phew. That needs a blog all its own. Too bad the high school ranks aren't going much smoother.

Two big coaching names are exiting the high school ranks altogether this season, and both schools will be hard-pressed to find equal replacements: Cuero is losing Mark Reeve to Texas Lutheran and Canadian is promoting Kyle Lynch to superintendent of schools. Reassigning a coach after multiple losing seasons is one thing. But Cuero made a state semi in '09 and has dominated 3A's Region IV, and Canadian has been to three consecutive state title games. Talk about quitting while you're ahead!

Cuero should be good to whoever its new coach is -- it's a football city with great history and the pieces in place to win immediately, including RB Trent Jackson, a junior-to-be with immense talent. Canadian, of course, has already hired -- former assistant Chris Koetting, who now takes over a prolific spread offense, installed by Lynch, that revolutionized the program and formed the backbone of a formidable state power. Kind of like jumping on a bucking bronco, huh?

Our first post of the year gives us some expected losses -- and at least one unexpected gain.

As he said he would before the start of the season, Waco Midway coach Kent Bachtel has retired, closing one of the top careers in the state. Bachtel's long tenure at Midway was marked by consistent success, even if it never did lead to a state final. But he was one of Texas' best, and he'll be missed.

But down in Austin, a mammoth hire is going to draw attention all season long -- Ty Detmer's coaching job at Austin St. Andrew's, which went 0-10 in 2009 and barely scored more than 60 points. In case we've forgotten, Detmer won the Heisman Trophy as a prolific quarterback in 1990. His father, a coaching legend in Texas, surely taught him a thing or two along the way.

And out in Spring, long-time coach Sonny Karas is stepping aside. Karas has guided that program for 25 years -- seeing someone else on the sidelines is going to be strange indeed for Spring supporters. Along with Karas goes Wade Ardoin at EP Eastwood, Bill Harper at Nacogdoches, Robert Bero at Spring Hill, Lloyd Alexander at SA Clark and Bobby Reyes at McKinney. And Bremond fans need a new nickname -- Jerry Hamrick has closed his Bremond career as well.

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