STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
After stepping down as Faith Academy’s head football coach three years ago, Stephen Shipley is back in the red and black.
Faith Academy of Marble Falls officials made the announcement May 23.
Shipley was the Flames head coach in 2016, when the team finished 4-6 overall and lost in the first round of the playoffs to Shiner St. Paul. At the time, the Flames played 11-man football. The school switched to six-man in 2018.
Shipley resigned at the end of the school year in 2017, citing personal reasons and time commitment, but he realized he couldn’t stay away from the sideline.
“Football is a passion, it’s in my blood,” he said. “That’s my heritage.”
Jeremy Wentrcek, the head coach this past season, will remain as the athletics director
Wentrcek was hired last year to perform both roles, but he “stepped away from serving as head football coach in order to focus on his responsibilities as athletic director,” according to a Faith Academy media release.
“This year, with coach Shipley in place as head football coach, I can give my full attention to the growing needs of the overall athletic department and school,” Wentrcek said. “We are glad to have him back on our team and believe it’s going to be an exciting and competitive football season for Faith Academy, starting with our summer six-on-six program in June.”
Last season, the Flames went 3-8 overall, losing to San Jacinto Christian Academy in the first round of the playoffs.
Shipley is no stranger to the gridiron. One might say it’s part of his DNA.
His father, Dan Shipley, was a halfback at Southern Methodist University.
Stephen Shipley played college football at Texas Christian University then in the Canadian Football League for the British Columbia Lions and the Shreveport (Louisiana) Pirates. The Pirates were part of the CFL’s expansion into the United States but only played in the 1994 and 1995 seasons.
Stephen Shipley’s brother, Bob Shipley, was the Burnet High School head football coach almost two decades ago, guiding the Bulldogs to back-to-back Class 3A state championship appearances. The Bulldogs finished as the runners-up both years.
The next generation of Shipleys — nephews Jordan and Jaxon and son Hanner — all played Division I football.
Stephen Shipley always wanted to be a football coach and cut his teeth at TCU prior to his CFL stint. After playing for the Pirates, Shipley joined the Temple High School football staff.
But while he was a graduate student at Abilene Christian University, his father-in-law offered him a job with the family business that he couldn’t pass up. So Shipley put his football coaching plans on the back burner.
During the summer of 2016, he was coaching the Flames 7-on-7 summer league squad when Faith officials asked him to lead the high school squad that fall.
In 2016, while pursuing his real estate license, he realized he couldn’t devote enough of his time to the Faith football program to help it prosper, so he stepped down. Three years later, he has his license and the time to give the Flames what they deserve, he said.
“It’s an opportunity for me to stay involved in football,” he said. “Football is football: throwing, tackling, it’s fundamentals, catching.”
Shipley plans to implement the spread offense.
“We’re going to try to be perfect at running routes,” Shipley said. “We’ll be fundamentally sound. We’ll be open one way or the other.”
He is evaluating the current football staff but has tapped nephew Jaxon as a coach/adviser. Jaxon Shipley is a former University of Texas receiver and played with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.
The goal is to have Jaxon attend at least one weekly practice to work with the receivers and the defensive backs, the Flames head coach said.
“After working with (Jaxon) at his camps, we’re on the same page as far as what we’re teaching,” Shipley said. “The biggest difference between us is he can still demonstrate the route.”
Shipley noted that Faith Academy captured another state championship in team tennis, its boys track team was second at the state meet, and the boys and girls basketball teams advanced to the playoffs, all in the 2018-19 seasons.
“I hope I can help the football program get to that level,” he said. “I want to bring excitement and passion to the program and bring it up to par with the other sports.”
The Flames begin the 2019 season on the road against The Christian School at Castle Hills in San Antonio at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 30.