The Shoemaker Grey Wolves went 0-10 in varsity football in both 2009 and 2010. Then Channon Hall became the Wolves head coach in 2011. Shoemaker was 1-9 in 2011 and 2-8 in 2012. In 2013, in just his third year as head coach, Hall guided Shoemaker to its best season in school history — a 7-3 regular season record and a playoff berth.
The Grey Wolves season ended in Waco last week after a first-round loss to Mansfield Timberview. Hall talked with Herald sports editor Allan Mandell on Wednesday.
Coach, was there a particular moment when you decided that Shoemaker would become a winning football program?
Yes there was. That was the plan the moment we walked through the doors here.
We knew it would take some work. But what made me optimistic is that I saw the kids were already working very hard. I just wanted them to have a clear understanding of exactly what I wanted out of them and exactly what we were working toward.
Were you pleased with the progress those first two years?
Yes, because even though we went 1-and-9 in that first year, three of those games we lost by less than six points. We were up in those games, too. We were in the mix with Belton. We were two inches from a win against Bryan High. Overall, I felt we were right there in turning the corner. As a coaching staff, we saw the things we needed to see. What was just as important is that our kids saw their own potential, too.
In sports, and in life, all you want is the opportunity to be successful. As coaches, we saw the opportunity was there and so did the kids.
Did you have any goals written out prior to this 2013 season?
I did, and then we verbalized those goals to the kids in the spring. I wanted us to go into every single ball game thinking that we could win it. We never wanted to be anyone’s doormat. Our goal was to have the opportunity to win every single game. Of course I know that winning every game is a very difficult thing to accomplish for any school. But what pleased me so much is that we had a group of seniors who had been with us for three years, had heard us coaches over and over, and they now believed. They believed in what we were saying to them as coaches and they believed in themselves.
What were the keys to this outstanding season?
First, we had a group of seniors that never made any excuses. Their collective attitude was, “Let’s go get it.” I told these seniors that they were laying the foundation for something special here and they believed that and then led our team.
Second, I have a very good staff. That is so key to success. This staff should be commended. There is a respect factor, a trust factor, that I have with my staff. We all give up our summers for these kids that we’re coaching. And that hard work has paid off.
Third, we kept hearing all year that we’re “underdogs.” Well, we all fed off of that.
Was there any particular I’ll-never-forget-that moment that stood out to you this year?
The Stony Point game was one. Our kids realized how good they can be. Our kids beat them and beat them on the road. That was my first favorite memory. The Killeen game — our kids just had that look in their eyes and I knew we’d be all right. Against Midway, our defense played lights out. From that game on, we felt we could play with anyone.
Coach, when do you start thinking about next year?
(Laughing) We’ve already started. We’ve already got our depth charts. We plan on continuing to build this program. We will lose some seniors, some big playmakers, on both sides of the ball. And we know that everyone will be saying the same old thing about us: “They’re the underdogs.”
But that’s fine with us … That’s how we like it.