Pigskin prognosticators across the state didn’t think much of the Shoemaker Grey Wolves, and for good reason. The school was coming off a 2-8 season and made the postseason only once in 13 years since it opened.
Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine, the publication that is considered by many to be the bible of prep football in the state, picked Shoemaker to finish seventh in District 8-5A.
But that doubt didn’t exist for Channon Hall and the rest of the team, and by the postseason they were one of the best stories in Class 5A, Region I.
Hall helped the Grey Wolves finish with a 7-4 record and make the playoffs this season. For his efforts, the third-year coach is the Killeen Daily Herald All-Area Football Coach of the Year.
Earlier this week, Hall talked with Herald reporter Albert Alvarado.
Did you know when practice started in August that this was going to be a good season?
I sure did, and everybody probably feels the same way about it. When you put in the work, the stars align and you get a little lucky and stay healthy, you always think this thing is going to happen.
How did you see the team get better as the season went on?
We’ve been building this thing. From our track team to our baseball team, it’s been a total process of guys coming together as a school and as an athletic program to build confidence that
Shoemaker can win, and I took advantage of it.
What was the turning point to the season?
The first one was probably (Round Rock) Stony Point. Being able to win against a good football team on the road, coming back from some adversity and still pulling through with the victory was probably the first sign that we were going to do something special.
What was the outpouring of support from the community like?
Everyone at our school rooted us on and told us that even though we had a couple of losses early to keep on fighting. They saw the improvement and we don’t look for people to tell us we’ve improved, but as a staff, you can tell when things are better than what they were. Wins and losses aside, you can tell when you’re getting better in special teams, offensively, defensively and all of those things are clicking. You want to get better every year. You can’t win them all; there are very few teams around the state of Texas that win all of their games. You just want to make sure that you get better every week, every month and every season. I think that’s what we were doing.
Do you think that this team changed the perception of Shoemaker football this year?
I think we’ve been changing that perception for the last three years that me and my staff have been here. We’ve assembled a good staff here. Again, the administration has allowed me to get a great group of guys together. (The players) always worked hard at Shoemaker, it was just a mindset. So we came in trying to change the mindset, and when you’re at a place three years, people hear your voice for three years, that’s when stuff starts to pay off.
How important was it for you to send the seniors off with a memorable season?
It was good for them; they deserve it. We told them a long time ago that they’re going to write their legacy, what they do on that field and the work they put in is going to show. They’ll never forget about it when they look back 20 years from now what they did their senior year of high school and what they did for this Shoemaker football team and the community. They can be proud of it, and that’s what we worked toward on the field and off the field. You work on leaving your legacy, leaving your mark. And those guys did a great job doing that.
What do you think the underclassmen learned from the playoff experience?
They learned what we can do. It doesn’t stop. That’s the starting point for Shoemaker High School football with these coaches and kids. It’s up to the younger guys to keep this thing moving, and that’s what they plan to do. They know it doesn’t stop, they’ve seen the light at the end of the tunnel, they’ve experienced it, and they can touch it. Now I expect this thing to keep on going.
How soon after the loss to Mansfield Timberview did you start thinking about next year?
Probably about two hours after the game. It doesn’t stop; it’s an everyday process. I’m highly competitive, my staff is highly competitive, and you just get that itch. You leave with a bad taste in your mouth in a playoff game against a great football team, but we weren’t satisfied with just making the playoffs. Immediately the thought process got going on building for next year and doing the things that we need to do to make sure we’re back in the playoffs.