LLANO — Earlier this month, Llano High School athletic director and head football coach Craig Slaughter resigned, sending the Yellow Jackets on a search for his replacement. They didn’t have to look far.
On June 9, Llano Independent School District announced it had tapped Marble Falls head football coach and athletic director Matt Green to fill the same positions for the Yellow Jackets.
Green had been at Marble Falls since May 2014.
In a statement, Llano ISD superintendent Mac Edwards said Green was the ideal choice to lead the Yellow Jackets.
“He is a true educator who puts the experience and development of the student-athlete first,” Edwards said. “Matt Green has an excellent résumè, a great coaching pedigree, and is a professional person of high moral character. His experience, his knowledge, and his ability to work with student-athletes will serve him well in his new role as athletic director at Llano Independent School District.”
Green, who guided the Mustangs to a 9-21 record in three seasons, takes over one week after Slaughter announced his resignation to become the defensive coordinator at Wall High School. During Slaughter’s five years in Llano, the Yellow Jackets went 18-36 with three playoff appearances and a bi-district title.
Green said he loves the Marble Falls community, the players, and coaches, a staff he assembled, but when the Llano job came open, he couldn’t pass.
“My kids have been going to school in Llano, and, ultimately, they were coming to Marble Falls, but they’re happy where they’re at,” he said. “My wife (Anna) works in Llano. I live in Llano. I want to coach my children, and I would with all my kids going to the same school. It’s an opportunity for me, I feel, is in the best interest for my personal life.”
Green has watched some Llano contests the past couple of years and is familiar with the athletic department.
“I think they have kids who work hard and are tough,” he said. “I think they have good kids.”
Green said he’s not looking to raid the Marble Falls coaching staff. When Slaughter resigned, he said most of the Llano staff was remaining.
“I don’t want to harm Marble Falls or Llano,” Green said.
Leading a staff he did not put together isn’t unfamiliar, he said, noting he encountered that when he became the head football coach at Lucas Lovejoy in 2012.
Green said he hopes Marble Falls fans will remember him as a coach with a lot of integrity and thanks them for their support.
“I hope they’ll remember me as a coach who loved the kids,” he said. “I want them to know I came to work every day. I worked hard. I’d hope they’d see I was a great role model and tried to help players learn to how to be a good man.”
His resignation, however, left Marble Falls with a hole to fill.
Chris Allen, the Marble Falls Independent School District superintendent, didn’t look far either when it came to naming a head coach and athletic director to fill Green’s shoes. Mustangs co-offensive coordinator Mike Birdwell will be the interim athletic director and head football coach.
Birdwell, who has been part of Green’s staff since 2014, will lead the Mustangs in the upcoming season, which starts Sept. 1.
Allen said promoting Birdwell was a no-brainer.
“There were a combination of things,” Allen said. “His experience — he has a track record of leadership in this community. He’s maintained a high designation of visibility and access. He has a unique perspective on how to balance his role of athletics director and head coach, who’s in charge of all athletes, including girls.”
Birdwell and his wife, Bethany, who is the principal at Highland Lakes Elementary School, have two daughters.
“I think that gives him a perspective on how to handle girls,” Allen said.
Marble Falls officials wrote in a statement that Birdwell will continue the same approach to the football program as Green, noting the two were teammates at Howard Payne University during the late 1990s.
Marble Falls opens the 2017 season against Bastrop Cedar Creek at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at The Pasture, 159 Lower Red River Road in Bastrop.
Llano hosts Sonora at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at Llano Stadium, 400 Texas 71 East in Llano.