By Kevin Posival and Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald
Shoemaker head football coach/campus athletic coordinator Ken Gray retired Thursday after 11 years and less two months before the Grey Wolves open their 2011 season.
Gray, 60, was 29-81 at Shoemaker and leaves the program he established with the opening of the school in 2000 and the Killeen Independent School District as its longest-tenured head coach.
The Grey Wolves are in the midst of a 22-game losing streak - the sixth-longest active streak in the state - that dates to 2008, the only year Shoemaker made the playoffs during Gray's tenure.
"It's tough," Gray said. "It's tough this time of year and I spoke with the kids (Thursday) and it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do in my coaching career. I think for both parties - me and the school district - it was best for me to go ahead and ... retire."
KISD Athletic Director Tom Rogers said the search for Gray's successor will begin immediately and they hope to have someone in place before the Aug. 8 opening of summer workouts.
Gray, Rogers and Shoemaker principal Ronald Gray met for an annual end-of-year meeting to discuss the program and that ultimately led to the coach's decision to retire.
"I think we left not seeing eye-to-eye on things and so ... my options were pretty much narrowed this late in the year," Coach Gray said. "Retirement is probably the best option for me."
Despite having just two winning seasons at Shoemaker, Gray was known for producing college-level talent, having 11 players sign Division I football scholarship offers, including current Tampa Bay defensive tackle Roy Miller.
Rogers praised Gray's ability to form relationships with his student-athletes.
"His relationship with them is more like a father than I've seen with a lot of coaches," Rogers said. "They respect him, they love him and they'd do whatever for him, that's very evident every time you walk into the field house or any of their fields."
Gray, who was making a KISD coach-leading $101,122 annually - is 88-133-1 over his 22-year head coaching career following an 11-year stint at San Antonio Highlands. He was also an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at Sam Houston State.
"I want to wish him all the best," Rogers said. "He's done a lot of really good things there for Shoemaker and he will definitely be missed."