TXHSFB 303: The most successful Texas high school football coaches

Taking a deep dive into the hidden storylines of the 2016 Texas high school football season.
Photo by Russell Wilburn

Photo by Russell Wilburn

Over the course of January, TexasFootball.com presents The TXHSFB 303, a deep dive into the hidden storylines in the 2016 Texas high school football season. Have an idea for an angle? E-mail DCTF managing editor Greg Tepper.

Today: The most successful Texas high school football coaches

Ask what factors make Texas high school football the best in the nation, and anyone worth their salt won’t take long to mention the coaching.

I’ve long maintained that what sets prep football in the Lone Star State apart isn’t the guys between the sidelines but instead those manning them. That’s not to say that there aren’t good coaches in other states, but the depth of coaching in Texas high school football is unparalleled. Could the best coach in Ohio challenge the best coach in Texas? Sure. But the sheer number of quality coaches — constantly pushing one another to innovate — is what makes Texas special.

And while this is the time of year for coaching turnover — you can see the more-than-100 Texas high school football coaching changes that have already occurred right here — it’s the mainstays that we’ll focus on today.

Let’s take a look at the most successful coaches in Texas high school football right now. But first, a caveat: we’re focusing on records through the end of the 2016 season, meaning that there will be changes — job changes, retirements, etc. So if you see a coach listed here that’s no longer the coach at that particular school, don’t freak out; we’re basing this on how things stood at the end of last year.

First off, let’s look at the active Texas high school football coaches with the most total wins.

Coach 2016 School Overall Record Win%
Phil Danaher CC Calallen (5A) 432-108-4 0.798
Randy Allen Highland Park (5A) 361-86-6 0.804
Tom Nolen Houston Lamar (6A) 355-96-7 0.783
Pat Henke Hallettsville Sacred Heart (Private) 295-140-1 0.678
Mike Hedrick Franklin (3A) 281-153-11 0.644
Denney Faith Albany (2A) 277-94-4 0.744
Hugh Sandifer Abilene Wylie (4A) 277-105-4 0.723
Weldon Nelms Weatherford (6A) 248-140-3 0.638
Larry Hill Smithson Valley (6A) 247-78-0 0.760
Reginald Samples Duncanville (6A) 244-81-2 0.749
Jerry Bomar Beeville Jones (4A) 243-140-3 0.633
Ross Rogers Bryan (5A) 241-119-9 0.665
Mike Wheeler Dallas Christian School (Private) 237-73-0 0.765
Mel Maxfield Amarillo (5A) 233-108-1 0.683
Vance Jones Balmorhea (1A) 230-52-0 0.816
Dale Keeling Everman (5A) 230-140-3 0.621
Hal Wasson Southlake Carroll (6A) 229-107-3 0.680
Jimmy Thompson Crockett (3A) 223-106-1 0.677
Sonny Detmer Somerset (4A) 220-127-2 0.633
Glen West Brenham (5A) 219-81-1 0.729
Lary Uland Wylie Prep Academy (Private) 219-157-8 0.581
Mark Kirchhoff Iraan (2A) 216-86-0 0.715
David Hussman Weimar (2A) 212-93-1 0.694
Jason Herring Refugio (2A) 203-50-0 0.802
Mark Bell China Spring (4A) 201-101-1 0.665

Perhaps you’ve heard about Phil Danaher. The Corpus Christi Calallen mainstay became the all-time winningest coach in Texas high school football history this season, breaking G.A. Moore’s mark of 426 wins. Perhaps even more impressive: he did so in one fewer season — 43 years for Danaher vs. 44 for Moore. Consider that over his 43 years as a head coach (33 of which have come at Calallen), Danaher has averaged more than 10 wins per season. All hail the king.

The entire list, predictably, is a who’s who of Texas high school football coaches, ranging from the very big (like Tom Nolen at 6A Houston Lamar and Randy Allen at 5A Highland Park) to the very small (like Denney Faith at 2A Albany and Vance Jones at 1A Balmorhea). There may even be some names here you didn’t expect — who knew that Mark Bell at China Spring had accumulated 200 wins already? — along with the familiar ones.

But those are counting stats; what about the rate statistics? Who are the most successful coaches in Texas high school football by winning percentage?

Coach 2016 School Overall Record Win%
Jerry Burkhart Richland Springs (1A) (188-14) 0.931
Gary Joseph Katy (6A) (178-17) 0.913
Hank Carter Lake Travis (6A) (91-10) 0.901
Tom Westerberg Barbers Hill (5A) (156-20) 0.886
Scott Lehnhoff Schertz Cibolo Steele (6A) (53-7) 0.883
Chris Koetting Canadian (3A) (85-13) 0.867
Kade Burns Mason (2A) (86-14) 0.860
Brady Carney Muenster (2A) (79-13) 0.859
Terry Gambill Allen (6A) (81-14) 0.853
Jeff Kasowski Bremond (2A) (72-13) 0.847
Delbert Kelm Crawford (2A) (105-21) 0.833
Trey Richey Borden County (1A) (108-22) 0.831
Brent West Cisco (3A) (174-36) 0.829
Bill Elliott Celina (4A) (57-12) 0.826
Todd Rodgers Argyle (4A) (156-33) 0.825
Eddie Gallegos Jonesboro (1A) (80-17) 0.825
Jake Fieszel Gunter (3A) (107-23) 0.823
Jordan Barker Waco Live Oak (Private) (100-22) 0.820
W.T. Johnston Newton (3A) (67-15) 0.817
Vance Jones Balmorhea (1A) (230-52) 0.816
Stephen Hill Houston St. Pius X (Private) (70-16) 0.814
Scott Surratt Carthage (4A) (118-27) 0.814
Jeff Riordan Crosby (5A) (51-12) 0.810
Kevin Kinsler Houston Northside HomeSchool (Private) (55-13) 0.809
Cornel Thompson West Orange-Stark (4A) (80-19) 0.808

Surprised to see Jerry Burkhart at the top? You shouldn’t be. Richland Springs is arguably the state’s top program at any level right now, capturing its eighth state championship in the last 13 seasons this past year. There is little debate: the Coyotes are the dominant force in six-man football in Texas right now.

Just three guys have a winning percentage over 90 percent — Burkhart, the incomparable Gary Joseph at Katy, and the latest Lake Travis mastermind Hank Carter.

What I like about comparing the winning percentages is that you can highlight some of the young stars of coaching — guys like Scott Lehnhoff at Cibolo Steele (who, incidentally, just left his post to become the school district’s athletic director), Jake Fieszel at state champion Gunter, and Jeff Riordan at Houston-area power Crosby.

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