By BRAD KEITH
(STEPHENVILLE) February 23, 2016 — Huston Academy is back in the game.
So is Kevin Wilson.
Huston Academy informed its students and announced to local media this week that football is returning to the Stephenville charter school, which is part of the Erath Excels! ISD.
But the Panthers won’t be playing six-man ball as they did in 2013 and 2014. This time, after a one-year hiatus from the gridiron, there will be 11 red and white jerseys on the field.
“I think right now 11-man football in this area just makes sense. It’s what these kids know and love,” said first-year superintendent Mike Scott, himself a former coach. “Right now we have the opportunity to hire a quality coach who knows the 11-man game. Our numbers here are strong enough to play 11-man football, and I feel like we will continue to grow, as well.”
Scott axed football at Huston Academy last summer when he left his principal’s position at Santo High School to take over as superintendent of Erath Excels! ISD. But he did so with plans to bring it back better than before.
“It’s really one of those things where the idea came to me and at first even I thought I was crazy,” Scott said of 11-man football. “But I kind of bounced it off some people and did some thinking, and it all just started to add up.”
The coach part of the equation added up especially easily.
“He was in town and I know his reputation and his passion for coaching and kids,” said Scott of Wilson, who is currently a case worker at Stephenville’s Foster’s Home for Children. “I think it’s absolutely obvious from everyone I talked to about Kevin how much he loves working with kids and seeing them grow and succeed. i think his ability to build relationships with kids will be a huge asset for us out here.”
And that’s exactly what Wilson is looking forward to most.
“I just can’t wait to put my arm around these kids, ask them their names and let them know they have someone here who cares. That’s how (Bob) Cervetto started building his program in Dublin. He hired me at Henderson Junior High in 2003 and I learned a lot watching how he makes relationship building look so casual, just saying hi to them, asking how they’re doing, then letting them know he’d love to see them come out and play.”
Wilson coached at Stephenville from 2003 until the spring of 2012, then left to be head football coach and director of athletics at Terrell in east Texas. He was there two seasons, then went to Fort Worth Chisholm Trail and Granbury for a year each.
“I was kind of burned out. My kids were here in Stephenville and I needed to get back here and be the type of Dad I know they needed me to be,” he said. “So I went to work with the Foster’s Home, and I love what I do there. But this, having the opportunity to stay here in Stephenville and be a Dad to Jae, Mya and Kenna and still do what I love, which is coaching kids, this is the perfect situation.”
Scott said plans are to turn a patch of grass behind Huston Academy into a practice field.
“I want to have it ready so we can be practicing on it this fall,” said Scott. “It won’t be regulation length, probably just 60 or 70 yards, but I think we can make it regulation width and give the kids and Coach Wilson a place to go to work.”
As for a schedule, Scott and Wilson realize they will be an “outlaw” team at first, taking on whatever games make the most sense for the program.
“Nobody is expecting us to be a powerhouse from day one. We want to build this thing right, so to start we’ll play teams, probably even some JV teams, that allow us the chance to be successful. That doesn’t even have to mean in terms of wins and losses, but you want to be competitive, to feel like you have a chance every time you take the field.”
Wilson echoed those words.
“The thing that’s most exciting to me is there is no team here, there’s no one to follow and no pressure on the kids. They just have to show up and have fun playing football,” said Wilson. “I want to help Mike and the staff here create an environment of success in a way that the kids can enjoy doing it. I want to teach the simplicities of success that I’ve been taught and the value of working hard together toward a common goal.”
Goals beneficial to all associated with Huston Academy.
“I want to see the school spirit and the atmosphere that comes with this. That’s what makes it exciting for me, is seeing what type of atmosphere we can create for our kids,” Scott said. “We have a good thing going here, and we always want to be exploring ways have a positive impact on more kids.”