HAMLIN — The Hamlin school board approved the hiring of Wheeler’s Chris Evans to be the Pied Pipers’ new head football coach and athletic director at a school board meeting on Monday night.
Evans, who will be replacing new Sweetwater coach Russell Lucas, went 33-16 in four seasons at Wheeler, following up a 6-6 record in his first year in 2017 with records of 8-4, 10-3 and 9-3.
His 2017 squad lost to the Pied Pipers 47-27 in the area round of the playoffs, and Hamlin defeated the Mustangs 56-22 in a regional semifinal as the team made its run to the state championship game in 2019.
Evans is excited about taking over at Hamlin.
“What a blessing it is to join a community that has the rich tradition, much like Wheeler has,” he said. “There are some good, hard working kids (in Hamlin).”
The Hamlin job appealed to Evans for several reasons, first of which was it’s location. He said his parents live in San Angelo while his in-laws live in Lamesa. Moving to Hamlin will cut more than half the drive time for the Evans family to be able to make a trip to see family — and vice versa due to the age of Evans’ children.
His oldest son will be in seventh grade next fall and is active in junior high athletics while his two daughters participate in gymnastics.
It will be a few weeks before he’s able to fully hit the ground running in Hamlin as Evans also serves as the head track coach in Wheeler and has several athletes that have the potential to make it to the state track meet.
Once track season is done with, though, he’s going to be sprinting through the doors in Hamlin. In the meantime, he said he was going to be splitting his time between the two schools.
The 2017 playoff game was a memorable one as it came on Thanksgiving night and gave Evans his first up close look at the program that Lucas led.
“They’ve beat my (tail),” Evans said of the playoff matchups with Hamlin. “I think it says something that I’m lucky enough to get to go to a school with the tradition and success that Hamlin’s had.”
Evans said Monday night that he had talked to Lucas about the Hamlin job not long after he took the Sweetwater position.
He’s not looking to completely revamp the schemes that Pied Piper fans are used to seeing, either. He likened his approach to what former Goldthwaite coach Greg Proffitt did when he took over at Wellington.
“The biggest thing is going to do a lot of the same things that (Lucas) did in having high character men and expect great things out of the kids,” said Evans. “Offensively, I’ve been spread most of my career and what Hamlin’s done is something that we will incorporate and look at. We want to mix in what they’ve already had success with and add some fundamentals.”
Evans said that schemes can be overrated and that it’s more about getting kids to play fast and sound defense.
Hamlin marks Evans’ second stop as a head coach, and even though he was looking to move up a classification, Hamlin just had too much to offer his family.
Evans and his wife, Alison, have three children — Austin, Julia and Ella. The family is looking forward to planting roots in Hamlin and being a major part of Pied Piper nation, having already made an offer to buy a house.
You could hear in his voice how excited that he was to be going through a home-buying experience in Hamlin.
“One of the things about being in a small community is that sometimes it’s hard to find a house that works for everybody,” said Evans. “When I moved to Wheeler, it was contingent on me finding a place to live. I’ve been renting for four years in Wheeler and the idea of being able to buy a house, my family move in and get comfortable and settled, it’s been nice.”
Part of the excitement stems from the fact that his wife will have a job upon landing in Hamlin. Alison Evans teaches English which is what Lucas’ wife, Rosie, also taught.
In the end, it all goes back to the location and family.
“It’s just the availability of Abilene and being able to come into town and, it may sound silly, but my wife could be at a Target in 40 minutes,” Chris Evans said. “That’s something that may not be a big deal to me as a football coach, but sometimes it is for her.”
Cover photo for this story was taken by Tom Carver with PressPassSports.com.