When Steve Ford learned that an assistant coaching job had opened at Sanger for both football and baseball a couple of years ago, it seemed like a natural fit.
Though he and Sanger head football coach and athletic director Chuck Galbreath had never worked together professionally, they had a personal relationship dating back many years, and Ford was looking to get back into coaching after taking a year off.
After two years of being an assistant baseball coach under former head coach Gilbert Ramirez, Ford is now being tapped as Ramirez’s replacement to lead the Indians.
“I’m pumped, to say the least,” said Ford, who has head coaching experience at TAPPS schools Liberty Christian and Grapevine Faith Christian. “The opportunity is huge. Coach Galbreath has a lot of confidence in me to turn over a pretty established program to me. We’re just a step away from doing something pretty special. It means a lot to me.”
Ford has a lot of success on his head coaching resume, including TAPPS state championships at Liberty and Grapevine Faith, as well as a trip to the UIL state tournament in 2004 when he was an assistant at Lake Dallas under current Lake Dallas athletic director Scott Head. He also was the head coach at Boyd for two seasons.
Now he’ll be looking to carry that success over to the Indians, who matched the deepest run in their history this spring when they went to the Class 3A Region II quarterfinals, eventually losing to Farmersville, which made it to the regional final.
The Indians will begin play in District 9-3A in 2013 and will be joined by Decatur, Bridgeport, Gainesville and Krum.
“I anticipate we’ll be battling for at least that position next year, and my expectations are to go further,” Ford said. “We’re changing districts, but we still have a tough region with Argyle and [two-time defending state champion Texarkana] Pleasant Grove. It’ll still be tough to get there, but I think our kids will step up and we’re going to get after some people.”
Sanger was led by Ramirez for four seasons and made the playoffs the past two — winning back-to-back playoff series for the first time in school history. Ramirez left Sanger to take a football and baseball assistant job at Class 5A San Angelo Central.
Galbreath said Ford’s familiarity with the program and previous head coaching experience made him an obvious choice to replace Ramirez.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt,” Galbreath said. “When I hired Steve a couple of years ago I knew what I was getting. He’s been a highly successful head coach in the private-school arena. He’s been here a couple of years and I’ve known him personally through the years, so I know the kind of man he is and I had a good idea of the type of coach he’d be. I knew he had head coaching qualities just from what I watched the past couple of years, too.”
The Indians lost a few key pieces from last season’s squad, but they also have a wealth of talent returning for 2013, most notably on their pitching staff.
Colt Ritzel will be entering his senior season coming off a 7-4 campaign when he put up a 2.51 ERA. He will be joined by Anthony Escobedo, who impressed as a freshman in 2012. The Indians also have talent in the field with young position players such as Ted Wisdom and Wilding Smith.
“I do have a good class and we have some good baseball kids,” Ford said. “We have some holes to fill, and we have most of our pitching back. What we graduated, I think we can fill with some of those younger guys. We learned a lot this year with how deep we went in the playoffs. I’m really excited about our chances this year to do something pretty special.
“I’ve been a part of some state championship teams and some that have gone to the final four, but I have no doubt this program can be that same way in the coming years.”
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.