Keller Citizen

Taking stock as the coaching turnover storm dies down

It’s another week and another column about the volatile coaching turnover in Northeast Tarrant County.

The good news is that we haven’t heard of another big name announcing or quietly leaving for another opportunity elsewhere. At least, I don’t think we have.

On Monday, the GCISD will have hired its successor for Dave Henigan running the Grapevine football program in Plano East’s Randy Jackson, who actually spent a little time at Grapevine during Gary Mullins’ tenure. Jackson was 5-5 at East last season.

Carroll’s athletic department did itself a favor by luring Lucas Lovejoy’s Ryan Mitchell to take over the volleyball program. Mitchell’s track record speaks for itself with five consecutive state championships between the Class 3A and 4A level. Mitchell is 315-41 in his career. Carroll volleyball followers know all about Lovejoy because that team beat the Lady Dragons in 2012. Carroll returned the favor before the 2013 playoffs began.

Arthur Stanfield’s exit may have been turbulent. However, he opened a lot of eyes in the community that this program can compete for state championships. That’s why Mitchell is here.

With those hires complete, let’s evaluate the football vacancies at Colleyville Heritage and Justin Northwest.

Colleyville Heritage: It remains the better of the two jobs in the GCISD. It has a better drawing area and the school will remain at the Class 6A level. The talent should produce some quality quarterbacks, possession-type wide receivers and defensive backs.

Where CHHS will always have the challenge is producing the big offensive and defensive linemen to really win the down-to-down battles.

Athletic Director Phil Blue is taking applications through April 28, so you can rule out spring football for Mike Fuller’s successor. Expect the new coach to try and get the 7-on-7 team developed quickly and get the linemen involved in every type of summer program possible. I would anticipate him starting fall practice a week early, because he’ll have that opportunity.

The positives of the job are that it is at the 6A level and has a history of making the postseason. The drawback is that it’s going to be a real challenge to make the postseason in a new district comprised of traditional powers Euless Trinity, Carroll and Coppell. On paper, the Panthers and Hurst L.D. Bell are likely battling for the fourth playoff spot.

Too early to tell who is attracted to it yet. But the timing of finding a new coach is going to be challenge. This is really late in the offseason calendar to be doing this.

Justin Northwest: This is similar to Colleyville Heritage because A.D. Susan Elza doesn’t have a lot of time to work with in order to find her new coach. Elza wants to recommend a name to the board by April 14.

What Bill Patterson did was change the perception that coaches couldn’t win at Northwest. It’s no longer a football coaching graveyard. He took the Texans to the playoffs in three of his five seasons and produced back-to-back eight-win seasons. The only disappointment was that he couldn’t claim the program’s first playoff win.

Patterson’s no-nonsense approach definitely helped ignite the internal and external change that was needed. But I would suspect Elza will want to go with a personality that’s a 180 to Patterson. That’s not a knock on Patterson. Each coach has a different style and as long as players buy in, it’s all good.

But for this new era of Northwest, expect a little more rah-rah. Plus, this coach will inherit a pretty good roster, led by returning quarterback Jesse Drummer.

The district with the Denton and Keller schools is daunting. Every 6A district is. But this program is poised to keep the success going.

Finally, we’re getting on the other side of this storm.