who knows how challenging it was to push past
West and East Texas powers.
“We used to talk about Permian in the sum-
mer,” Pratt said. “Those were the big teams we
talked about and knew you’d have to beat if you
wanted to think about a state title. And I talk
about this with coaches around here, now you
have to think about whatever school is down
the street from you.”
The genesis of the 21st century success
clearly started in the last part of the 20th cen-
tury. A generation of Baby Boomers and Gen
Xers have become the foundation of contempo-
rary North Texas success. It’s no coincidence
that Allen’s star quarterback Kyler Murray is the
son of Kevin Murray, who played at North Dallas
in the 1980s.
Less obvious are the family ties of many
which lie below the surface. Dallas produced
Tim Brown, the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner
from Woodrow Wilson. Mesquite Poteet had
another strong season last year with one of the
area’s leading receivers, Kody Edwards, who is
Both those players had family ties with deep
football insight. But the exposure to weight-training, diet, conditioning and detailed expertise is a resource many North Texas players
now take for granted.
It’s certainly not uncommon to have youth
teams coached by former professional players
and it’s common to have youth teams coached
by former college players in multiple sports.
And it’s not just Kyler Murray, who is considered one of the top quarterback prospects in
the country for 2015, who has access to his
father, Kevin Murray, who also has become one
of the top individual quarterback coaches in the
country. Quarterbacks across North Texas train
Allen offensive coordinator Jeff Fleener says
Kyler Murray gets so much work on his fundamentals during his individual workouts that
much of the Allen practice time can be spent understanding and executing specific game plans.
The North Texas coaching tree branches are
blooming as well. Tom Westerberg has won
three state titles at Allen. He is a protégé of Joe
Martin, a one-time quarterback at Lewisville
who is now with the Texas High School Coaches
Association. Westerberg was offensive coordinator at Garland with Martin as the Owls won
the 1999 Class 5A DII state title.
McKinney’s Pratt is part of a large chorus
which says the coaching styles of coaches such
as Kimbrough, Martin, Bob Ledbetter, Eddy
Peach, John Reddell, Tim Edwards, Neal Wilson
and Ron Poe set the standard of high expectations for many North Texas programs.
“There is no question, you used to be able
to go out and beat teams which may have had
better talent than you did,” Pratt said. “It was
because of the preparation of a few coaches.
It’s not that way anymore. There are coaching
staffs full of good young coaches who have
played or worked under guys who could have
been college coaches.”
Seminole coach Kent Jackson has experi-
enced the breadth of Texas programs from
the resources in small communities to the
expanding Metroplex. He had great success in
Sweetwater where he spent eight seasons and
has seen the landscape shift considerably in
the state over the past two decades.
Jackson helped open Frisco Heritage in 2009
as the fifth school in the burgeoning ISD’s
growth (the Frisco ISD will open its eighth high
school in 2015).
“There are so many young people moving in
to North Texas,” Jackson said. “There is going
to be growth there for a long time. You have
schools filling up and you have people you are
able to hire for every sport on your own staff
who are outstanding coaches. Many of the assistant coaches are good enough to be head
coaches. But it’s where they are looking to live.”
In addition to systems and cultures of success,
there has also been a great cycle of athletes as
well. Carroll won four state titles in five years
under former Dragons coach Todd Dodge, but
during that run SLC had many major college-level
players including quarterbacks Chase Daniel of
Missouri and Greg McElroy, who helped Alabama
win a 2009 national championship.
In the last 15 years, strong programs with
good cultures have intersected with top players. College coaches circle North Texas easily
for hundreds of prospects with many developing into NFL players as well. In a 2005 championship season which produced 10 state
public and private school champs from North
Texas, the stars in the recruiting class of 2006
included McElroy (Alabama), Trinity RB Dimitri
Nance (Arizona St.); QB Trevor Vittatoe (UT-El
Paso’s all-time passing leader) and Highland
Park QB Matthew Stafford (Georgia and No. 1
pick in the 2009 NFL draft).
The attractiveness is bringing together young
families with lots of athletic-oriented kids in a
half-dozen counties connected easily to downtown Dallas and Fort Worth. A staple ingredient
of successful programs in more remote population areas has always been hiring staff, whether
they are coaches or not, who, coincidentally,
are bringing athletic children.
Instead of Guyer coach John Walsh having
his son J. W. grow up in the shadow of a program
like Brownwood under Gordon Wood as John
Walsh did, J.W. Walsh helped establish Guyer
as one of the state’s most successful program
in just a few years as a quarterback now playing
at Oklahoma State.
And when Guyer hires a new girls’ basketball
coach this past off-season, it found one of the
most qualified in the state not far away from
its campus. Andrea Robinson led Cedar Hill to
the 2010 state tournament and previously led
Fort Worth Dunbar to three state tournament
appearances, including state championships in
2005 and 2007.
Robinson also brings along her son Shawn,
one of the state’s top quarterback prospects after throwing for 1, 123 yards and 11 touchdowns
and rushing 624 yards and six touchdowns as
a freshman starter at Saginaw Chisholm Trail.
Another new trend is the speed by which
new schools can create a winning identify and
no longer have to loom under the presence of
Today, it’s not uncommon for new schools
to win a state championship a few years after
opening its doors. Up-and-coming coaches
quickly fill out championship-caliber staffs as
quickly as the school’s shiny new hallways fill
In a growing area such as North Texas, the
switch in philosophies by ISDs resulted in attendance boundaries no longer being “
propped-up” at older schools which in turn led to a wave
of students at newly opened schools.
Within six years of opening, Hebron won a
state title as the “new kid in town” as compared
to Lewisville, which had a long-standing record
of success and state titles as recently as 1993
And while Allen is the poster-school for large
enrollment numbers equal success, there are
only three schools — Allen, Euless Trinity and
Katy — listed in the top 50 of the latest enrollment report which have recently won state
titles. Although, to be fair, the top 50 list does
include powers such as Houston Lamar, Pearland, Hebron, Plano West and Coppell.
As school districts vie for prospective families, the size and quality of resources and facilities becomes a factor for parents choosing
“Having new weight rooms are nice,” Warren
said. “But you’ve got to get people in there. There
are just a lot of good programs coming out of
there. You play one and here comes another.”
North Texas schools Denton Guyer (top photo), Cedar Hill
(bottom photo; D.E. M. Photography/David Megginson),
Allen and Aledo won state titles in 2013.