JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
MARBLE FALLS — Head football coach and athletic director Todd Dodge has traded in his Marble Falls High School purple and gold for Austin Westlake red, blue and silver.
Dodge is leaving the Mustangs to be the Chaparrals head football coach and athletic director. His first day is May 5. Westlake will compete in District 25-6A in the fall.
“No doubt this is the one we’ve been focusing on since we’ve been here,” he said. “I’ve had four Class 6A job offers in two years. None of them was the right opportunity worth leaving this place and these kids.”
By coaching Westlake, he will follow in the footsteps of his father-in-law, Ebbie Neptune, who was the athletic director for 22 years and head football coach from 1982 to 1986. His wife, Elizabeth, graduated from the high school. His son, Riley, almost became the quarterbacks coach in 2012 but decided to take a graduate assistant position at Texas A&M University instead.
“This is one unique and special place to my family,” Dodge said. “I can help honor my late father-in-law’s legacy. It’s a feeling of needing to give back and knowing my family has been a part of that from the day it started. I’m excited about the opportunity, but my heart is heavy.”
Dodge told his Mustang players at 8:05 a.m.
“I’m proud of our players,” he said. “They have bought into our training and preparation. I know they feel a little betrayed. I hope they know I love them. (Quarterback) Brennen Wooten is such a joy to coach, (lineman) Sam Kohutek is really a strong character young man. When I postponed spring ball, I wasn’t naive to think they wouldn’t know there was something up. In the best interest of them, we didn’t start.”
That’s because Dodge didn’t want to take away a week of August training camp from a new coach if he wasn’t going to be at Marble Falls. He said the new coach would need the extra week to install his system.
Dodge was hired by Marble Falls Independent School District on Jan. 23, 2012, to take over a program that had one playoff appearance since the new millennium started.
At that point, he was trying to “change a culture” by implementing a summer strength-and-conditioning program, get new equipment and central heat and air in the weight room, and conduct spring football.
Those are the obvious things Dodge did for the program, MFISD Superintendent Rob O’Connor said.
“The most important is that he built the players’ confidence,” he said. “Our players as a whole understand that if they put the effort into the offseason conditioning and spring ball and stay in shape, they can compete with anybody.”
“I think (Marble Falls is) going in the right direction in getting athletes to be more involved in multiple sports,” Dodge said. “I think that’s what we improved on. One of the things we tried to do in our field house is to take inventory of things we can control. They are better equipped to go forward because of that philosophy.”
Dodge leaves Marble Falls without regret, noting that he has known about the town since he was a University of Texas quarterback. He said coaching here made him a better coach.
“From an offensive standpoint, we added more things here than I did before from schemes,” he said. “I’m absolutely a way better coach.”