“Ideals are dangerous things. Realities are better. They wound, but they’re better.”
— Oscar Wilde, “Lady Windermere’s Fan”
“It’s not ideal.”
That’s how new Harker Heights head football coach Jerry Edwards described the time-crunched task of beginning his tenure with the Knights.
From his first day on campus Tuesday, the first-time head coach had exactly 27 days until the start of fall preseason practices Aug. 12.
Twenty-seven days to get a feel for his new position, his new responsibilities. Twenty-seven days to move his family of five, including three small boys, from the Dallas area to Harker Heights.
Twenty-seven days to bring in his coaches — his guys — as well as getting to know and working with the current coaches already on the Knights’ staff to best run his system, implement his coaching philosophies and ideologies.
Twenty-seven days to acclimate himself with his new players, the kids he’ll lead into battle on Friday nights in the fall, who will ultimately make the biggest difference in deciding whether he is successful at Harker Heights.
“It’s a very unique situation. If I could have had it happen in March, I would have preferred that, because now you have four weeks before the season starts,” Edwards said.
That’s not the way most head coaches would envision starting a new job.
That’s why of the 33 applicants for the Knights’ top post, only one was a current high school head coach in Texas. A few were head football coaches as recently as last season, including finalist Plez Atkins of Houston North Forest, who was not retained after his school district was shut down by the state this summer.
But the opportunity to be a head coach for the first time, as well as what Edwards felt was unflinching support from the Killeen ISD administration to improve athletics across the district, was too appealing for him to ignore.
“Bottom line, it was a tremendous opportunity and I had to try,” Edwards said.
Now after being hired July 12, Edwards’ task becomes exponentially more difficult. Yet, as he sat around a large wooden table that didn’t leave much space to maneuver inside a cramped conference room at the school, Edwards seemed at ease.
Leaning back, the young coach was confident and self-assured. He’d just met a small contingent of his new players, and was making the rounds around the high school introducing himself and shaking hands with administrators, teachers and office clerks, all with a smile.
In spite of what could be overwhelming and certainly not “ideal” circumstances, Edwards’ task remains the same — to make Harker Heights a winner again.
And, while nobody’s expecting that to happen overnight, the window to put his stamp on the program before Aug. 12 is getting smaller by the day.
It’s not ideal. But in 27 days, a new era at Harker Heights begins.