Zac Harrell comes from a family with football in their veins: his father Sam Harrell, legendary coach for Ennis, grandfather and brothers including former all American quarterback for Texas Tech, Graham Harrell. Zac's pedigree is known and he grew up on the sidelines. He was programmed on and off the field with a steadfast will to succeed. He saw this in his father as he coached while battling multiple sclerosis.
“When it's the right fit for you and the right place, God's going to make it happen,” Sam taught his sons.
“I really feel like I'm a great fit for Athens and Athens is a great fit for us," Zac said. “I've always thought it was a very unique community.”
Zac said he intends to focus on several areas this school year.
“First, we are going to encourage high participation rates in sports, because we believe athletics teach so many life lessons. Second, We are hiring great coaches. They are going to be the highest quality men and women. Since January they have already made a difference in these kids lives. Third, we are going to win at every sport we play, we are highly competitive and we will instill winning in our kids.”
Zac said he believes junior high is where a lot of these foundations are laid, so they plan on encouraging a strong foundation.
He also has four rules for the kids.
“We are going to do things right, in everything you do,” he said. “On the field, in the classroom and on the weekends, the kids will also be held accountable.”
He also stressed teaching mental toughness.
“The kids are put in situations that are difficult and they are encouraged to push through,” he said. “Finally they are taught it is not about you! Society wants to make sure you do what is best for you, but in football it's about the other 50 guys on your team. It's about helping each other.”
He plans on helping the kids coordinate multiple sports through creative scheduling, which Coach Harrell said is important in a small town like Athens.
The four day school week is expected to enhance the football games by allowing coaches to focus on football Fridays. Their strategy will change each year to match the team's strengths.
Summer workouts this week have been from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. with an average of 85 boys and 30 girls in attendance.
The first scrimmage will be Aug. 16, and the first game is in Brownsboro.
Two-a-days will start Aug. 5.