After the departure of Brian Hodnett earlier this month, the Haskell Indians have found their new head football coach and athletic director.
The Indians turned to former Big Spring coach Mitch McLemore, naming him the 30th head coach in school history on Thursday morning.
He looks to build on the success that Hodnett had prior to taking the offensive coordinator position at Sweetwater. Hodnett made three playoff appearances during his tenure in Haskell County.
Haskell will be the fourth head coaching stop of McLemore’s decorated career that includes a pair of state championships while serving as an assistant on Wayne Hutchinson’s staff at Stamford.
“We are very excited to be going home to the Big Country and to be Haskell Indians,” McLemore said of he and his family. “At the same time, there’s a bit of sadness and emotion because we loved Petrolia.”
McLemore’s wife, Kim, is the chief appraiser for Jones County and loves being around people. Anson’s short drive from Haskell was another draw, as Petrolia was a two-hour drive.
“It’s huge. It’s part of the driving factors behind this (move),” McLemore said. “She’s very social and loves people. She is the greatest fan in the world of whoever we are rooting for.”
Most of the McLemore family lives along Highway 277 between the Haskell and Stamford areas. It’s also never been a secret that McLemore has plans to retire in the Stamford area.
McLemore owns a career record of 31-47 with stops at Junction, Big Spring and Petrolia. During his seven seasons as a head coach, his squads have gone to the playoffs five times with four playoff wins.
His best season was in 2015 when he went 8-4 at Junction. Last year, Petrolia went 7-4 before losing in the area round of the playoffs.
In 2018, he led fourth place Big Spring to a 28-22 bi-district upset of District 1-4A Division I champion Clint. The Steers then lost to Hereford, a state quarterfinalist that season, in the second round.
After making the postseason 15 times from 1938 through 2003, the Indians have seen a resurgence since then with nine playoff trips in the past 17 seasons under Brad Brunson, Kent Colley, Grady Benton and Hodnett.
McLemore will aim to follow in the footsteps of Brunson and Hodnett who combined led Haskell to seven of the nine postseason appearances since 2004.
Petrolia went 10-11 in McLemore’s two seasons there with a 28-27 bi-district win over Cross Plains before falling 48-14 to Hamlin this past fall.
Worked with Coach McLemore in Big Spring as his OC… high character guy and would give you the shirt off his back!!! https://t.co/JC9VTDhGAX
— Tony Cortez (@CoachTCortez) April 29, 2021
While most of his staff decisions have yet to be made, one thing is certain as his son, Ty, will be joining his staff.
The veteran coach said that Hagen and Wes Hutchinson haven’t decided if they want to join him. Hagen Hutchinson was co-offensive coordinator at Petrolia with Ty McLemore while Wes Hutchinson volunteered with the team and is graduating from college this weekend and wants to become a coach.
The Hutchinson boys are like sons to Mitch McLemore, who coached with their dad Wayne at Stamford. The two families are extremely close with one of McLemore’s wife’s best friends being Wayne Hutchinson’s wife, Kelly.
“He’s like my brother from another mother,” McLemore said. “Coach Hutch is a Hall of Fame coach and I worked with him for 13 years. When you have people like that that God places in your life, you just have to sit back and say ‘Thank you Lord.'”
They got a great one!
— Wayne Hutchinson (@coachutch) April 29, 2021
“For people like him to have that respect for me, it’s one of the greatest gifts and I’m just fumbling with words,” said McLemore. “I’m just overwhelmed.”
After calling Kelly and Kim “like sisters”, McLemore called the entire Hutchinson crew “family.”
“I have an extended family that involves a very few people in a close circle,” he said. “It’s my family and coaches like Coach Hutch and his crew. Hagen and Wes are like sons and they grew up with Ty. I love them and can’t even put it into words.”
In addition to being the head football coach, McLemore will also be the Indians’ athletic director and the support that the community gives the teams wasn’t lost on the new hire.
“It’s a great community that supports their athletes,” he said. “They’ve got the new fine arts facility and the new gym and … Wow. I hadn’t been where the high school is in a long time and it’s just beautiful and they keep everything immaculate.”
He is also excited about all of the Haskell athletic programs, include the Maidens’ track team that has a shot at claiming a state championship with several relay teams that have qualified for the state track meet.
The Indians’ hiring of McLemore brings to a close, at least for now, a busy offseason of coaching changes in the Big Country. 11 different jobs among the 40 schools covered by BigCountryPreps.com changed hands this year.
|School||Old Coach||New Coach|
|Brock||Chad Worrell||Billy Mathis|
|Clyde||Scott Campbell||Danny Dudgeon|
|Comanche||Stephen Hermesmeyer||Joaquin Escobar|
|De Leon||Andrew Dickson||Jacob Marwitz|
|Dublin||Bob Cervetto||Greg Hardcastle|
|Hamlin||Russell Lucas||Chris Evans|
|Haskell||Brian Hodnett||Mitch McLemore|
|Hico||Randy Thornton||Todd Swearengin|
|Merkel||Britt Hart||Will Kates|
|Stamford||Ronnie Casey||Britt Hart|
|Sweetwater||Ben McGehee||Russell Lucas|