LEE FEDORA TOOK OVER NAVASOTA 10 YEARS ago and has never looked back. The Rattlers have sustained a level of success over the past eight years that stacks up with nearly every program in the
state. It was never about finding talent in Navasota, the Rattlers always had that. It was about finding a coach that could
mold that talent into a football program on and off the field.
“Growing up in College Station playing at A&M Consolidat-
ed we played against Navasota and they always had talent,”
Fedora said. “What we needed at Navasota was discipline
and it took the first two seasons to get that instilled in these
young players. We lost 33 players to grades in the first two
years and went 3-7 in each of those seasons. We’ve only lost
one player to graduation over the past eight years and have
The teams that Navasota lost to in those quarterfinal games
have all gone on to win or at least play for a state championship,
but the Rattlers got over the hump in 2012, winning a state
championship and putting Fedora on top of his profession for
the first time. Navasota repeated that success last season,
knocking off Argyle in a double-overtime instant classic.
“I enjoyed the whole season, really,” Fedora said. “I’ve
been a head coach for 17 years and I know it isn’t all
about the wins and losses. Sure, that is what coaches are
remembered for from the outside, but I enjoyed the emails I
got from opposing coaches and fans about how much class
and character our kids showed as much as I enjoyed the
wins. We want to play Navasota football: that means playing
fast, playing physical, working hard and showing character.
Our goal is to always go 1-0 and that doesn’t change if it is a
scrimmage or a state championship game.”
The Rattlers reached the mountaintop last season, but
Fedora, and his 17 years of head-coaching experience,
doesn’t think he’ll have an issue reminding his players 2015
is a new season.
“After the ring ceremony, 2014 is over,” he said. “I point to
our wall where team pictures hang each offseason and tell
them that we only put up team pictures of teams that win
some sort of championship. We have one for each team the
last eight years. Nobody wants to be the team that doesn’t
get up on that wall.” – MIKE CRAVEN
A LOSS IN THE BI-DISTRICT PLAYOFFS IN 2013 fueled Temple and head coach Mike Spradlin towards the UIL State Championship in 2014, and the former University of Houston offensive lineman
and offensive line coach hopes that the loss to Aledo in last
year’s title game fuels the Wildcats toward his first state
“The year before I got to Temple we went 1-9. We started
to turn it around right away and I could see the players
wanted to win and were buying in to what we were teaching,
but it wasn’t until the loss to Cedar Hill in the first round of
the state playoffs where I really saw it click,” Spradlin said.
“Cedar Hill went on to win state and we were right there with
them. We led a lot of that game and were driving late before
an interception ended it. I think right then our guys started to
realize that we could play with anyone in the state and that
Temple is a storied program in Texas football history, but
the Wildcats hadn’t had much success for nearly a decade
before Spradlin took over. Turning programs into winners has
become his trademark.
“I’ve always been drawn to the fixer-upper jobs,” Spradlin
said. “After spending a few years at the college level I took
the job at Midland Christian and helped turn that around. I
was drawn to Temple because it is a one-school town and it
had tradition, but it had been quite a while since Temple had
done much winning. I wanted that challenge and it has been
a great experience.”
Spradlin attributes a lot of his recent to success to his four
years spent coaching at Houston alongside current Baylor
head coach Art Briles.
“That man is a genius,” Spradlin said of Briles. “I think I
learned more from him in four years than I did in my previous
years coaching. We’ve adopted a lot of his system on offense.
People see it as smoke-and-mirrors, but it is built on being
physical and that translates to the offense and the defense.”
Losing a state championship game is tough, but Spradlin
says he has put it in perspective.
“It took me a few weeks to get over, but only four teams
Lee Fedora has built a powerhouse at Navasota by converting talent into teamwork.
out of 250 in Class 5A got to the state title game,” he pointed
out. “That is special. It should be viewed as special.”
– MIKE CRAVEN
Mike Spradlin fuels Temple’s fire for a state title. (Joe Olivares Photography)
28 FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL TEXAS 2015 FNF MAGAZINE @FNFMAG @FNFMAG FNFMAGAZINE.COM ORDER THE PRINT VERSION AT FNFMAGAZINE.COM