January 19, 2018

Tarleton furnished playoffs with two championship grid coaches

Aledo High School head football coach Steve Wood (left) and Allen High School head coach Terry Gambill will lead their respective teams during the UIL State Championship games on Saturday, Dec. 23, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

STEPHENVILLE (December 20, 2017) — Orange and black. Red and blue.

Colors of the teams favored to win two of the prestigious Texas high school football crowns on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

But there’ll be a lot of purple there, too.

Steve Wood, head coach at Class 5A Aledo, and 6A Allen head coach Terry Gambill both graduated from Tarleton State University.

Wood was part of the historic 1977 Texan team that won a conference crown and advanced to the national playoffs.

He has guided his Bearcats to an unbeaten 15-0 season mark and a date with College Station, 13-2, for the 5A Division II crown at 11 a.m.

“I started out as a graduate assistant up at Tarleton,” Wood said in a summer interview with Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. “I played for one of the best defensive coaches ever around—Joe Gillespie.”

Aledo, winner of seven of the last eight titles in its division, is looking to tie the state record Saturday with its eighth championship in the last nine years.

Wood has been there for all of them. He was on the staff of legendary coach Tim Buchanan as Aledo dominated Class 5A and cruised to titles in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013. In 2014, he was named interim head coach and took the Bearcats to yet another title. After having the “interim” tag removed, the Orange and Black have won the last two state trophies, too.

Like Wood, Gambill took over a perennial playoff stalwart when he arrived in Allen.

Already well-versed in postseason play, he coached at Southlake Carroll in 1993 and won a state championship. Then he took Forney High School to the state finals in 2000. Before becoming the head coach, he was the defensive coordinator at Allen for the 2008 state championship run. He also posted a 59-9 record at Midway High School in Waco, including a semi-final trip in 2011.

“To me, Allen is the best high school program in the country,” Gambill said. “I’m so excited to get to be a part of it.”

The 1983 Tarleton graduate lettered in football four years, earning All-Conference honors as a junior and senior. He was an All-America honorable mention in 1983.

He and his unbeaten Eagles, 15-0, face Lake Travis, 13-2, immediately after the Aledo/College Station matchup on the Dallas Cowboys’ home turf.

Gambill has guided the Eagles to the state semifinals three straight years. They are seeking the fifth championship in program history.

The fans at Saturday’s title matchups may be cheering orange and black or rooting for red and blue.

But the Purple will be well represented.

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