The story surrounding new Ryan assistant coach Adrian Eaglin and Ryan head coach Joey Florence is something Florence won’t let Eaglin forget, a story told jokingly and with a slight amount of coyness.
In 2000, Ryan was in need of a coach to turn its program around and had narrowed the candidates down to Florence, who was then the head coach at Cooper, and Ronny Mullins, who was the head coach at Garland Naaman Forest.
Mullins was the strong safety on Plano’s 1977 state championship team under current Denton school district athletic director Ken Purcell.
Eaglin, then a 23-year-old after his first year of coaching, was on the 2000 hiring committee. In a decision Florence won’t let Eaglin live down, Eaglin voted for Mullins over Florence. Florence went on to lead Ryan to four consecutive state championship appearances and two state titles.
“He wears me out about it all the time,” Eaglin said. “I’ll say this: I’m very glad that we got the guy we got. It worked out for me personally and professionally.”
Eaglin, now 36, returns to Ryan this year as one of four new assistant coaches. Eaglin will coach the offensive line along with fellow newcomer Zach Highfill, who played for Florence and graduated from Ryan. Florence described Highfill — a B-team player early in his career — as another youthful addition and a great role model for players.
Richard Lay, 64, joins the coaching staff after coming over from Denton and brings a vast amount of experience. Zach Fischer, 29, will help coach the secondary.
Aaron De La Torre left in January to become the head coach at Irving, while Mario Edwards Sr. left to become the director of player development at Florida State, his alma mater and the school his son chose to attend. Eugene Rogers is now the defensive coordinator at Haltom and Robert Butler is an assistant principal at Krum.
Conroy Hines will return as Ryan’s offensive coordinator.
Fischer is the son of former Denton head coach Gary Fischer, and his mother, Barbara, is the principal at Guyer. Zach Fischer won’t have any returning starters to work with, but he’s still looking forward to the season.
“The main thing is being around a program at this level that has the reputation and the tradition that it does,” Zach Fischer said.
It’s a reputation and tradition built by Florence and his coaching staff, which will include David Thomas, who’s entering his 27th year as a defensive coordinator. Thomas said he knows his 4-2-5 defensive scheme as well as he knows his children.
Thomas also said the coaching staff is happy to have Eaglin back.
“He’s got the playing experience, the knowledge and he’s good with the kids,” Thomas said. “He brings all those kinds of things that we need.”
Eaglin played at Abilene Christian, and after his first stint at Ryan from 1999 through the spring of 2007, he went on to become the offensive coordinator at Alief Hastings. After teaching at Navo Middle School, Eaglin decided it was time to get back into coaching.
“I guess I’m supposed to tell you something wise, but I don’t know — I love coaching,” Eaglin said when asked about returning to Ryan. “It’s what I’m passionate about.”
He said the transition has been seamless with the coaching staff because he’s previously worked with some of the coaches, and he’s excited to return to the Raiders.
“It doesn’t even feel like a job,” Eaglin said. “You can’t say that about every job, but I can say that about this one.”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.