One of the most recognizable names in the Texas high school football coaching ranks is back at it, this time out in East Texas. Former SMU running backs coach Claude Mathis was named the new head coach of the Marshall Mavericks last Thursday. He’s only been on the job a few days but is already charging full steam ahead.
“It’s your typical new coach roller coaster out here,” Mathis said, “I’m still trying to get situated, I’m learning names but I’m glad to be back doing this again. I haven’t done this for two years so it feels like it’s all brand new.”
It’s just the latest chapter of a long coaching career that started in Central Texas and most recently in the Metroplex as the head coach of DeSoto and as an SMU assistant. This chapter feels a little bit different for Mathis thanks to his family.
“Family is one of the biggest reasons I came back,” Mathis said, “I love coaching high school football. Also, I now have a chance to see my kids play. I get to watch them and be at their games and I also have a chance to spend time with them. As you get older, sometimes you lose the time to spend with your kids and I don’t want to lose that time anymore.”
As he and his family get settled into Marshall, the next part comes with building a relationship with his new team. The Mavericks finished 6-5 in 2016 with their season ending at the hands of Wylie East in the Class 5A Division II playoffs in the bi-district round. For a tradition-rich program like Marshall, they’re trying to get back to the top as a state title contender and Mathis likes what he sees so far from his new team.
“You can tell these guys are hungry,” Mathis said, “They’re willing to work and do what it takes to win a state championship but you can see that they’re ready. I don’t think there will be any problems with these kids being dedicated and putting their best foot forward.”
Mathis is also taking a new approach as he jumps back into the waters of Texas high school football. He built a tremendously successful program at DeSoto, going 74-18 in seven seasons with the Eagles. But after two years in college, Mathis is ready to implement those changes into his program.
“I’m taking a lot of what I learned from Coach (Chad) Morris into this job,” Mathis said, “I’m especially focusing on practice planning and making kids mentally tough. Coach Morris did a great job of both those things and especially making them mentally prepared and I’m taking that with me and I know that’s going to pay off here.”
As for how the Mavericks will look on the field in 2017, Mathis again emphasized the hunger and the readiness they’ve shown in the early stages. He acknowledges that it won’t be an easy road, but their drive will be on display from the kickoff of their first game on September 1 against Tyler Lee.
“We have to put our best foot forward to be successful and they have to understand that the culture is going to change here,” Mathis said, “I see a lot of potential with this team. There’s something about these guys and their willingness to do what it takes that stands out. I can see that in them.”
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