HALTOM CITY -- George "Ged" Kates is moving from head coach at Fort Worth Arlington Heights to the same position at Richland High School.
It is a return to his alma mater for Kates, 36, who played football for Richland in the early 1990s and was an assistant coach there in 2000.
His appointment was approved Thursday night by the Birdville school board. Kates said by phone a few minutes later that even after two very successful seasons as head coach at Arlington Heights -- with records of 10-1 and 9-3 -- it was a move he felt he should make.
The job coming open when Gene Wier resigned Nov. 21 after nine seasons "allowed me to know instantly what kind of people are there, what a great place it can be to coach in the Birdville ISD," Kates said. "The timing is just right, and the opportunity was there. I've never been a guy who necessarily wanted to go home, but when this came open, I knew it was something I wanted to look at."
Kates, who had been at AHHS for four years (the first two as offensive coordinator), said he views the Richland program as one of potential.
"Ever since I was a player [offensive lineman-linebacker], we were always on the cusp of something big," he said, "but it's never been sustained. That's our goal, to make it a program where the kids move in and out, but the program remains strong every year."
Under Wier, Richland went 42-51, including 4-6 last season (3-5 in District 6-5A). The Rebels' best season in his tenure was a 9-2 record in 2008. Wier was188-36 with six state titles at Olathe (Kan.) North before coming to Richland.
In 2010, Kates' first season as head coach, Arlington Heights had a perfect regular season and lost 52-49 to Saginaw Boswell on a last-minute touchdown in a playoff opener. The Yellow Jackets edged Birdville 14-13 in the first round of the playoffs this past season before losing to Killeen.
Kates noted that when he was offensive coordinator (with Steve Hale as head coach) in 2009, Arlington Heights won its first playoff game in a quarter century. "So we knocked down some doors there," he said, "and that's what we'll try to do at Richland."
Kates told his AHHS players several days ago that, if his appointment was approved, he was leaving for Richland, and "that was a difficult thing to do."
"It was a quiet room," he said, "and a very difficult couple of days. But I told them we'll be linked forever, and that I think Richland needs me more right now than Arlington Heights does."
Kates is from a coaching family. His late grandfather, Joe Kerbel, won two state championships at Breckenridge in the 1950s, then was head coach at then-West Texas State in 1960-70, with Mercury Morris and Duane Thomas among his star backs.
One of Kates' younger brothers, Matt, was on the staff at Arlington Heights until he became head coach at La Grange, and the other, Will, has been offensive coordinator at AHHS and is likely to move to Richland.
Asked about the challenge of playing in the same district with state powerhouse Euless Trinity and a strong program in Colleyville Heritage, Kates said, "There's not a 5A district in Texas that is easy. You want to play against programs like that. You want to grow to where you can beat them. It doesn't come easily. It takes a lot of work, and we'll start [today.]"
Ged Kates bio box
A look at George "Ged" Kates
High school: Richland ('94 graduate)
Playing career: Richland OL-LB, 1991-93, walkon at Houston for a year
Degrees: B.A. in history, Texas A&M, 1999; master's in administration (Texas Woman's University)
Wife: Melissa (an attorney)
Children: Drew, 5; Brett 3; Clay, 9 months
Coaching career: 1999 Harwood Jr. High (Bedford); 2000 Richland assistant; 2001-03 Euless Trinity assistant; 2004-07 Grand Prairie offensive coordinator; 2008-09 Arlington Heights offensive coordinator; 2010-11 AHHS head coach.