It’s no fun sitting in no-man’s land.
But when you have the word “interim” next to your job title, that’s pretty much the fate you have to accept. Colleyville Heritage defensive coordinator Judd Thrash embraced the title. When you’re 34 years old and your goal is to someday lead a high school football program, you take advantage of the opportunity.
For all he knows, Thrash could become the Panthers’ next head coach. If nothing else, this period serves as a perfect trial run. He can use these weeks as a foundation and a selling point for any future head coaching positions he pursues.
Colleyville Heritage leadership gave Thrash the position after Darren Allman left on May 11 to become the Carroll ISD’s next athletic director. While the move came in the middle of the spring football season, Thrash didn’t flinch.
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“If I have the chance [to be head coach], I’ll do my best,” Thrash said. “When I was defensive coordinator, I went 110 percent. I was always one of the first to arrive and last to leave. I wanted to do what it took during the spring season to make it as easy as possible. I just kept my head down.”
Interviews for the position were expected to take place last Friday and Monday. Whether a leader will emerge is unknown. Thrash will be a part of the process. But given that he has never been a head coach that could raise concerns.
However, Colleyville Heritage’s history has shown that it could hire a coordinator and be successful. Chris Cunningham became the school’s first head football coach in 1996 after leaving his defensive coordinator position at Grapevine.
Coaches throughout Texas know who Thrash is. He’s positioned himself well. Prior to following Allman from Austin Westlake to Colleyville Heritage, Thrash coached the secondary under Hank Carter at Lake Travis in 2010 and 2011. He’s also spent time with Craig Chessher at Round Rock Stony Point and with Tam Hollingshead at Rockwall Heath. Those three coaches have combined to win several state championships and make numerous playoff appearances. Plus, Thrash said he has his master’s degree in administration along with completing superintendent course work to prepare him for something like this. That’s probably why Allman’s departure didn’t faze him.
That’s also why you might understand if the silent majority of those coaches are keeping their fingers crossed. College coaches came away impressed with how Thrash organized the spring game and kept everything moving flawlessly.
About 15 Division I coaches came to the game. It might have been for a couple of reasons. First, they wanted to see a couple of prospects. Second, they wanted to show the district leadership they were backing Thrash.
One area coach told me: “If they hire Judd, he would work his tail off.”
As an interim head coach, all you can really do is go about each day as if the “interim” part of your title doesn’t exist. Thrash has the keys to the head coach’s office until the district asks him to return them.
Still, new athletic director Bryan Gerlich, who faces the immediate pressure of trying to determine the next course for this program and others, owes it to the district, the high school, student-athletes and the other coaches to make the best possible decision. There isn’t much time. Gerlich has had to navigate through the end of the spring football season to determine who he could pursue.
The quality of established and successful candidates would only surface if someone really wants to take this risk and walk into something he knows he probably can’t set into his own image until 2016.
Thrash should find out where he stands by the middle of June at the latest. Until then, he’s using this time to set up 7-on-7 teams through the middle schools and participate in program fund raisers.
“As of right now, I have no indication of what’s going to happen,” Thrash said. “But I can’t sit still. I just have to keep moving forward.”