Recent history shows when Grapevine High School stays internal with its head coaching changes, that’s been a good thing.
Assistant coach Steve Hutcherson took over the baseball program for the 2016 season. All he did was lead it to the Class 5A state championship.
Who knows what the fortunes will hold for new head football coach Mike Alexander? But Grapevine’s defensive coordinator/interim head coach now gets his chance to continue the work that Randy Jackson started in 2014. On March 9, the Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District board approved Alexander as the permanent head coach.
Alexander succeeds Randy Jackson who left in early February to take a similar position at North Forney. Grapevine finished 10-2 in 2016 and shared the District 8-5A championship before falling to Aledo in the Class 5A Division II area playoff round.
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“We’re really excited to have Mike take the program over,” GCISD athletic director Bryan Gerlich said. “He’s been a part of its success.”
The Mustangs have made the postseason for three consecutive seasons. The idea was to keep the continuity within the program. Alexander arrived in 2015 to become the defensive coordinator after spending 2011-2014 as the head coach at Mount Vernon in East Texas.
Between the school board meeting in late February and other discussions, there was strong parental support for the district to remove Alexander’s interim tag. Other assistant coaches were considered including running backs coach Tommy Maddox.
“When I got here in 2015, the thing that stood out was the kids desire to win,” Alexander said. “Whatever Randy had done in 2014 was establishing some good habits. The kids were fantastic. There were good things. Now, I want to take it to the next step.”
Alexander, 41, already knows what he is inheriting. It starts with senior-to-be quarterback Alan Bowman, who will be in his fourth year to start. There are also some playmakers on offense, including junior-to-be wide receiver David Clayton.
Defensively, the Mustangs lose a healthy number of players on the defensive side, led by nose tackle Brian Andrews. But Alexander’s specialty is the defensive side of the ball. That’s why he came to Grapevine. Regardless of losses to graduation, the Mustangs are going to remain in the 3-4 alignment.
“I had talked to [former AD Phil Blue] and knew that Randy was making a change with his defensive coordinator,” Alexander said. “My wife and I were content. I really didn’t look at coming here until spring break of 2015. But this district is exactly what we wanted.”
While the record at Mount Vernon (15-25 and no playoff appearances as a Class 3A Division I school) wasn’t what Alexander wanted, he took the experience as a learning tool. Twice the program missed the playoffs because of tiebreakers. However, the community passed bond packages that helped upgrade the athletic facilities, Alexander said.
“I’m not a micromanager,” Alexander said. “I’m going to stay involved on the defensive side. I made the mistake of thinking the head coach could be a part of the offense. That’s not my comfort zone. I made my career coaching defense.”
Not much is going to change from what the offseason looked like when it began in January. When school resumed Monday following spring break, the program’s boot camp began. Spring football has an unofficial start date of April 25.
“There’s not a lot broken in our program,” Alexander said. “We just want to keep things moving forward.”