Coaches of 2-3A: Different paths, same goal

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Coaches of 2-3A: Different paths, same goal

Post  Kevin on Sun Aug 30, 2009 3:16 pm

Original Story can be found HERE


By Daniel Youngblood (Contact)
Monday, August 24, 2009


Photo by Thomas MettheThomas Metthe/Reporter-News

Thomas Metthe/Reporter-News

Sweetwater head football coach Craig Slaughter runs a drill with his players during practice.Slaughter is one of two new head coaches in District 2-3A, along with Brownwood’s Bob Shipley

Following a debut season for District 2-3A that most probably would agree was every bit as good as advertised, two of the league’s most storied programs were left with holes at the top of the their coaching staffs.

But after extensive coaching searches, those two schools — Brownwood and Sweetwater — found the men they wanted to lead their programs on opposite ends of the coaching spectrum.

Brownwood went to Coppell to lure veteran coach Bob Shipley from the Class 5A ranks while Sweetwater opted for Craig Slaughter. Slaughter is an energetic up-and-comer from 2A Clyde whose seven-year head coaching career has seen him quickly ascend the high school coaching ranks.

Though the two men bring different backgrounds and experiences to their new posts, both have track records of success that already have earned them the respect of their new peers.

“They’ll both do great jobs at their schools, and boy, they’ll bring a breath of fresh air to those programs,” said Wylie coach Hugh Sandifer, the dean of District 2-3A coaches entering his 24th year leading the Bulldogs. “We enjoy and look forward to playing those guys.”


@Cutlines copy:CRAIG SLAUGHTER Sweetwater head coach

While both Shipley and Slaughter were coaching at different levels before taking their current jobs, both have spent some time coaching in 3A. Shipley spent six years at Burnet, leading the Bullodgs to back-to-back state finals appearances in 2002 and 2003, and Slaughter’s first two years at Clyde were spent competing against Wylie, Sweetwater, Breckenridge and Comanche in District 7-3A.

That experience and the opportunity to coach at a program with Sweetwater’s history in a district as tough as District 2 has Slaughter excited about his return to 3A.

“I was looking at our tickets the other day when I was giving some to my parents. We’re hosting Burkburnett, Monahans, Breckenridge, Brownwood and Snyder,” Slaughter said. “That’s five just big-time home football games, and all those guys will be coming to the (Mustang) Bowl with a high level of play. It’s just exciting to be a part of that.”

Slaughter, who undertook and completed turnaround projects at 2A Hearne and Clyde, won’t have to rebuild at Sweetwater. The Mustangs reached the playoffs all eight seasons under former coach Kent Jackson and own a nine-year playoff streak.

The first-year Sweetwater coach, who comes to the school with a 47-31 career record, said it’s now his challenge to keep the Mustangs playing at the high level their fans have grown to expect.

“I was at the Mustang Bowl for a camp we were having. There are 32 flag poles around that place and those flag poles represent championships,” Slaughter said. “It’s hard to not be drawn to the Mustang Bowl and all their history of winning.

“It’s definitely a big-time program and there’s a serious expectation level, but I think that helps those kids achieve. With good teams year after year, they don’t want to be the team that doesn’t get it done, and we’re expecting the same kind of winning teams they’ve produced for a long time around this place.”

Shipley’s baptism into the brutal District 2-3A, on the other hand, comes at a Brownwood program that’s coming off of a couple of rough seasons. The Lions missed the playoffs each of the past two years under Steve Freeman, including a disappointing 3-7 campaign in 2008.

But Shipley, who has an 87-32 career record through stops Rotan, Burnet and Coppell, hopes to put a Brownwood program with seven state titles to its credit back on the path to success.

“I’m one of the worst losers in the world. I can’t stand to lose,” Shipley said. “I don’t handle losing very well, so every ounce of energy I put into (coaching) is based just as much on my hatred of losing as it is my passion for winning.”

Shipley said he came to Brownwood for a variety of reasons, including family ties, the return to 3A and perhaps most importantly because of what football means to the town’s community.

And after coaching in a 5A district with programs such as Southlake Carroll, Lewsiville Hebron and Flower Mound Marcus, he said he’s eager to tackle the new challenges 2-3A will present.

“I have an awful lot of respect for the all the head coaches in this district because they’re all proven winners,” Shipley said. “It’s exciting to jump from that 5A district into this one because coaching-wise, there’s not much of a dropoff.

There are a lot of great coaches and a lot of great teams in this district and it’s a battle in and of itself just to make the playoffs.”

Between Sandifer at Wylie, Snyder’s Chad Rogers, Graham’s Brad McCoy and Breckenridge’s David Fambrough, Shipley and Slaughter will join coaching circle with a combined lifetime record of 416-193-6.

Fambrough, who led an undermanned Buckaroos squad to a 1-9 record in his first year in 2-3A, knows just how tough coaching against those guys can be. And, he said, the district may have gotten even tougher with the league’s newest additions.

“Those guys are well-deserving of the jobs they got, and I know they’re going to be equally as tough as everybody else in this district,” he said. “I think our district did a great job of replacing the coaches that they lost.”
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