Shields for Mayor? “Not so quick,” first year head football coach Mike Shields laughingly stated. “Let’s hold off on that. In this business you are only as good as your last game, but it is a real pleasure to be headed to the playoffs.
Shields is sky high after his Red Oak Hawks downed Ennis, 24-12, Friday night to qualify for the UIL playoffs for the first time since 1984. Making the playoffs was especially sweet, as the Hawks had not won a District 15-4A game in the previous three seasons. All that changed when the Hawks put a check mark in the win column with a 14-7 victory over Lancaster on Oct. 12. The team followed that up with a 27-22 last minute win over Midlothian. Last week the Hawks downed Arlington Seguin 21-14 to record a 4-1 district mark with only a home game against Corsicana left on the slate.
The Hawks, Waxahachie and Ennis are all headed to the playoffs. Interestingly, a Hawk victory coupled with an Ennis win in the final week would put the teams into a three-way tie for the district championship.
“Words can’t express what the win over Ennis means to us,” Coach Shields said. “This has to be one of the biggest wins in the history of Red Oak football. Any time you can beat a team like Ennis, with the tradition that they have, is special. Coach (Sam) Harrell does such a good job. When you beat them, you’re really doing something. They have four state championships, great players and great coaching.”
“Our team is really excited. There were lots of people that followed the bus home (Friday night). Lots of people were there to greet us when we got off the bus. It was a great feeling to see such a show of support. I am happy that our players got to experience something like that.”
Shields is trying to wrap his head around the fact that the team will be in the playoffs for the first time in 24 years. “We were having a team meeting and I thought about the fact that none of these kids was even born the last time Red Oak was in the playoffs. I thought ‘I am the only one in the room that has been to the playoffs.’ Actually, only the coaching staff has any experience in the playoffs.”
Now that the Hawks are going to step off into uncharted waters, there is time for re-evaluation and new emphasis placed on goals.
“When we started the season, our first goal was to win a district game,” he said. “Our next goal was to earn a playoff spot.”
The jubilant coach didn’t even mention winning a district title as one of the goals.
“Now we have to re-establish ourselves,” he said. “We will emphasize the basics. One of the good things about our district is that it is so tough. Every week is a close game with good teams each time out. The (playoff) teams coming out of our district are battle hardened.”
“We will continue to do the things as we have all season. We (the coaches) tell them (the players) what to do. They understand and execute. We will stick to the same routine, try to keep things normal. But, we must realize that the playoffs are right back to square one. You can’t let down. There are no do-overs.”
Shields is too down to earth to be the mayor, but a strong argument can be made that he and the entire Hawk football staff should be voted District 15-4A Coach of the Year when all is said and done.
E-mail Jim at firstname.lastname@example.org.