Posts Tagged With: Aledo

Aledo Article

A real nice article about one of my my teams Aledo and the coach, Tim Buchanan. Aledo got some unfair national attention this year. Includes a You-Tube video…  Go Bearcats!!!

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Area Playoff: Aledo Vs. Denton Guyer


For the first time in four years the Aledo Bearcats ended a season without a championship, falling in their 2nd round game to Denton Guyer, 42-30. With the wind at their back, Guyer dominated the 1st quarter jumping out to a 21-0 lead. The Bearcats got on the board in the 2nd quarter on a 15 yard pass from Pate Davis to Willie Gibson. Aledo added a safety on a bad snap by the Wildcats early in the 3rd quarter to make the score 21-9 and it looked as though the Bearcats might make a run. Unfortunately for Aledo, whenever they started to look like they were getting something going they found a way to shoot themselves in the foot.  Dropped passes, overthrown balls & big defensive letdowns all kept the Bearcats from climbing out of the hole they found themselves in.

Not to take anything away from Guyer, they are an outstanding team and outplayed Aledo. Guyer quarterback Jarred Heard, a University of Texas commit, was the best player on the field and hurt the Bearcats both through the air and on the ground. Aledo could have won, but would have had to play a lot better than they did, and on this day they just made too many mistakes to beat a team as good as Guyer.

Sad to say goodbye to Aledo, Idalou, Port Lavaca Calhoun and Harlingen; they are all great programs I spent time with and all went down today.

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Aledo vs. Cleburne Bi-District

The Aledo Bearcats dominated every aspect of their game against Cleburne last night in Mansfield; scoring on the ground, through the air and on defense, and defeating the Yellowjackets 45-7. The Bearcat offense was impressive last evening, the line did a big job controlling the line of scrimmage, opening up big holes for the running game. On defense the ‘Cats picked off 4 Yellowjacket passes, including one for a touchdown, and gave up almost nothing on the ground. On special teams Aledo, blocked a punt, had some big returns and pinned Cleburne deep on many kickoffs.

Quarterback Pate Davis played an outstanding game, throwing very well, but also doing a great job with his feet.

We’ll find out next week when Aledo matches up against top ranked Denton Guyer, but I wonder if the Bearcats have been overlooked a bit. Everybody seems quick to attribute so much of their past success to Jonathon Gray that some might not have noticed how good this team is. They are very solid everywhere and don’t make many mistakes. I haven’t seen Guyer and it’s hard to say that the Bearcats aren’t being given their due respect, but I wonder if some are too ready to see them go down.

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Aledo vs. Arlington Heights


The Aledo Bearcats dominated in every aspect of the game last night defeating the Yellowjackets from Arlington Heights 45-2. All week, in fact the whole time I’ve been in Texas, everyone’s told me I should have seen Aledo last year and the amazing senior class that had led the Bearcats to three state championships. While it must have been fun to watch, I have to say that I’m more interested in watching programs that win despite not having great athletes and physical specimens. Winning with a roster full of D-I talent is one thing, but taking average kids and turning them into a great football team takes kids who are willing to commit, maturity to put the team in front of the individual and great coaching.

This is not to say that Aledo doesn’t have talent, they do: Quarterback Pate Davis threw and ran the ball very well, sophomore running back Jess Anders has tremendous speed and moves, and the offensive line is quick and strong. The defense is stifling, knifing and looping into the backfield and holding Arlington Heights to under 50 total yards and just one first down in the first half. The only time Arlington Heights crossed midfield was the very last play of the game.

For all that, what stands out to me about this game and the Aledo Bearcats is execution of a program. Coach Buchanan has been the head coach at Aledo for 19 years and has had the Bearcats in the playoffs for the past 16. This string is a result of a great system that’s been set up by Coach Buchanan and his staff. Yes, there have been great athletes during this time, but the bottom line has been the consistency of a coach who has decided to stay at Aledo and build a program from mediocrity to a 4A powerhouse. If there is one thing I don’t like about the Texas model it is how it encourages coaches to bounce around the state by moving up the latter through multiple ISD’s. It’s good to see programs like Aledo where a coach has built a program rather than find a ‘better one’.

Thanks to everyone at Aledo for my great week there. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Bearcat team and staff. I look forward to watching how they progress.

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Aledo is the kind of program it’s easy to hate from the outside. They have an indoor facility, a beautiful stadium complete with color coordinated seat backs, a great field house and an upper middle class student body from nice two parent families. Coaches from less affluent areas are often resentful of the advantages they feel programs like this have. People outside of Texas see places like Aledo as a stereotypical big school program with misplaced priorities; the epitome of the excess they believe exists in Texas.  But like most things, first impressions don’t survive a deeper look.

A few things to know about Aledo;

-The new high school was built in 2000 with no athletic facilities, the football team had to go to the old stadium on at the old HS,, now a middle school to play, the stadium was small and not excessive in any way. A separate bond issue was passed in 2006 to build an on-campus stadium. The home side of the stadium holds 5000 people and is generally full.

-A plaza area was build just inside the entrance for other Aledo programs to set up booths and fundraise for their programs.

-The football budget would be modest in many other states. Aledo football players must pay for their own shoes and team meals. Unlike many schools one booster club represents all sports at Aledo.

-The significant gate receipts do not go to football or even athletics, but into the general fund that pays for such things as teachers salaries.

-With just over 1500 students, around 250 play football, but 300 are in the band and Aledo is well rounded enough to compete for the Lone Star Cup every year, a competition that takes into account all the athletic and academic programs a school offers.

Yes, Aledo has a lot of advantages over some places, but that wasn’t always the case. The program was built up by hard work, not inherited. When Coach Buchanan took over in 1993, Aledo had a struggling 3A program with substandard facilities and a history of losing. The powerhouse you see at Aledo was largely earned not bought, and the rise of Aledo football has only helped the other programs at the school.

I’ve thrown out this challenge before, but if somebody can find something wrong with this model for a quality, comprehensive high school, please feel free to write a comment on this blog.




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Week four: Aledo Bearcats

Sunrise at Aledo


One of the interesting things about this trip is seeing the different ways of doing thing that I’ve have never even considered. Like most things, I suppose, football is full of a million little things that are done the way they are just because they’ve always been done that way. For example, 99% of the football programs in the country practice after school. As a coach, it never crossed my mind to do anything else. Unlike this norm, Aledo practices before school every day.

They start every school day at 7:20 AM on the gamefield as the sun rises over the east endzone (yes, another oddity is Aledo’s east-west field) practicing through their morning athletic period. Shortly after nine all the student and coaches rush to their respective locker rooms, shower, change into civilian clothes and begin their school days. There are several advantages to morning practices; most obvious is staying out of the hottest part of the day. The past two days were some of the first since I’ve been in Texas where the heat wasn’t something to overcome and fight through.  At eight in the morning the sun beating down isn’t an issue. The start time also allows some coaches to focus on the JV and freshmen afterschool while the varsity meets with other coaches to fine tune, lift weights and work on special teams. Hard to prove, but I’m also guessing the boys are more focused and fresh in the morning than after sitting in classrooms all day.

The uniqueness of Aledo’s practice procedure doesn’t end with the early start time; the atmosphere is relaxed yet focused and crisp. Over the stadium loudspeakers a mix of a dozen country and classic rock songs plays in a loop, small groups of players stretch in circles around their position coaches who use this time to reinforce their teaching.  The scoreboard is preset for different intervals anywhere from 2 to 12 minutes specific to the needs of the coaches. 2 minutes for water and transition, followed by 9 minutes for inside hull vs. the 5 minute uniform segments most programs use to organize their practices. The tempo is quick, without being overly physical. Technique is stressed, filmed and critiqued in afterschool film sessions.

Everywhere I’ve been, people have wondered about how Aledo would be in the post Jonathon Gray era. I know he’s an outstanding player and I’ve been told, a great young man. But when players like him come and go people seem to forget that football is the ultimate team sport and the system that Mr. Gray excelled in is still plugging along. Aledo’s practice organization is a small part of this system and judging by what I’ve seen and their non-district play, the Bearcats are still a team to contend with.

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Aledo has won three straight 4A championships and everyone wants to know how the Bearcats will do without 2011 player of the year, Jonathon Gray. Great players always get the credit when things go well, but consistent success in football usually results from a consistent coaching philosophy. There are many valid philosophies that work, sometimes even contradictory ones, but the key is the buy-in from the players and staff. This commitment to the system, whatever the system is, leads to success. It may sound trite, but football teams can often be successful because they believe in what they’re doing and do it well. Aledo’s offensive line coach Lee Bishop summed up the philosophy of Coach Buchanan’s program:

1)      Find your best 12 athletes; put the best at quarterback and the next 11 on defense.

2)      On offense, always focus on having a physical running game.

I can’t tell you how well Aledo will cope with the loss of Jonathon Gray, but Aledo looked very impressive. They probably won’t scare anyone when they line up for the National Anthem. They’re not very big and their numbers are a little down from previous years, but Coach Buchanan told me he’s very happy with his teams’ strength and they looked very fast at every offensive position. Without pads, it’s hard to get a feel of the defense, but it is a veteran group. Every defensive starter started at least two varsity games in 2011. I understand the defensive unit was very good last year, so there is no reason it shouldn’t carry the Bearcats early while to offense gets game experience. Practice was well-run, organized and relatively physical for a team without pads.

What a beautiful facility they have at Aledo. Just being out there in that stadium made me feel big time, I can’t even imagine what it’s like for the kids who practice and play there. I hope they appreciate what they have. 99% of high school players in this country never set foot in a place as outstanding.


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