Most coin tosses for high school games are ceremonial

Aledo opened its sparkling new Bearcat Stadium against rival Weatherford in 2006 to huge fanfare.

Included in the festivities for the ceremonial coin toss were a pair of local celebrities, the Star-Telegram's Randy Galloway and retired Dallas Cowboys legend Walt Garrison.

Unbeknownst to them, Aledo had already won the "true" coin flip about a half hour earlier in a meeting between Aledo coach Tim Buchanan, Weatherford coach Mike Sneed and referee Mickey Hand.

"The Weatherford kid calls heads, Mickey flips it and it comes up heads," Buchanan said. "Mickey just scooped it up real quick and goes 'It's tails and Aledo has won the toss.' Galloway looks at Garrison, Garrison looks at Galloway and Galloway goes, 'Hey we need to get some money on this game, Buchanan's got the officials in his pocket.'"

After leading Galloway on for a bit during a phone conversation the following Monday, Buchanan explained that most high school football coin flips are decided between the coaches and referees discreetly 15 to 30 minutes before the game. The toss between team captains at midfield shortly before kickoff is just for show; recognition for team leaders in front of the fans.

"It's a district-deciding thing when you have your meetings after realignment," Euless Trinity coach Steve Lineweaver said. "Some districts choose to have the real deal right out there with the players right before the game."

Most don't and haven't for years. Most of the coaches interviewed for this story, all with decades of experience under their belt, took their players out of the coin-flip equation somewhere between 10 to 15 years ago.

All have witnessed blunders by players and coaches alike when choosing a pregame strategy.

"Honestly, I would trust our guys to get it right, but there are pros and cons in it for sure," Southlake Carroll coach Hal Wasson said. "But I've seen where a coach tells his player he wants to kick off to start the game, the other team defers and they end up kicking off both halves."

Fort Worth Nolan Catholic coach Joe Prud'homme, who's won three TAPPS state titles in the past four years, still lets his players call the toss before the game but not without a couple of mishaps over the years.

"Oh yeah, we've kicked off both halves several times," Prud'homme said. "I'm not proud of it, but it's a reality."

There have been other times with more on the line where his players have given Prud'homme a scare. For example, the coin toss before overtime in the 2005 state championship when he told captain Antonio Martinez that they wanted to play defense first if they won the toss.

"He comes back and says we won the toss and to get the offense ready," Prud'homme said. "I almost died, I thought I was having a heart attack on the field and then he told me he was just kidding. It kind of broke the ice and we ended up winning it.

"So he got me -- now he's on my staff."

Several coaches pointed out that back before pre-flips many of the refs were classy enough to help nervous captains out and check with the coach before announcing an obvious blunder to the crowd.

The postseason is when things can get a little tricky as the designated home team, usually determined by yet another coin toss, gets to choose whether there will be a pre-flip or not.

"The only negative thing is now if you do get in the playoffs and a coach doesn't want to do it then the kids look at you all confused," Buchanan said. "I always say the same thing, 'tails never fails.' You have a 50-50 chance and it evens out over the years."

Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @JohnsonJarret

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