Brandon relishes chance as a head football coach
Gruver officially hired Lee Brandon as its athletic director and head football coach during a board meeting Tuesday night. It’s Brandon’s first head coaching job of his career. [Kale Steed/ Press Pass Sports]
Lee Brandon has been patiently biding his time to be a head football coach at the high school level.
After 13 years climbing the ladder through the chain of command as an assistant with stops at Shallowater, Spearman and most recently Wellington, Brandon reached his life-long milestone when he was officially named the new athletic director and head football coach of the Gruver Greyhounds during a board meeting Tuesday night.
“It’s hard to put into words,” Brandon said. “When you get into coaching you have a list of things you want to accomplish. To me, being a head coach was way up on the list. To be able to finally reach that goal is a little unreal. I’m extremely excited, and my family is excited, which is most important.”
Gruver superintendent Wade Callaway says Brandon fit every criteria the school was looking for in a coach as well as a person.
“We were blessed to have a number of excellent candidates, and it was a very difficult decision,” Callaway said. “At the end of the process, we unanimously felt like coach Brandon was not only the right fit for our athletic director/ head coaching vacancy, but also that the entire Brandon family was the right fit for our community. We are very excited about getting them to Gruver and having them become part of the Greyhound family.”
Brandon, 36, has spent the past six years at Class 2A Division II power Wellington, and the last five as the Skyrockets defensive coordinator. The Quanah and Texas Tech graduate is no stranger to winning. In his first season joining Wellington’s staff led by former head coach Wade Williams, the Skyrockets went 14-0 and won the Class 1A Division II state title with a 42-20 win against Falls City in Arlington.
Brandon’s last three seasons in Wellington has seen success continue, going a combined 38-5 with a postseason push to the state semi’s and state quarterfinals included.
“Gruver hired a man of great integrity that firmly believes in faith, family, and athletics,” said Greg Proffitt, who will enter his second season as the Wellington football coach this fall. “Coach Brandon has all the characteristics that you want in an athletic director and head football coach. He is always going to put students first. He is not afraid to roll up his sleeves and go to work, and leads by example. There is no doubt in my mind that he will do an outstanding job for the Gruver Greyhounds and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Gruver’s path has been similar over that same three year stretch as Wellington’s, and a huge reason the Gruver job was enticing to Brandon. Under former coach Terry Felderhoff, who left Gruver after 14 years to take the same position at Era High School, the Greyhounds were a combined 32-10 with a run to the Class 2A Division II state finals in 2018.
“That was a selling point for me coming to Gruver,” Brandon said. “Gruver has played 42 games over the past three years. So you can say they’ve played four seasons during that time. That falls back on the young guys. You see them grow up, and not only are they playing JV they are on the sideline and maybe contributing in a playoff game. But mainly they see what’s going on, and they see the expectation.“
Brandon knows it will be a challenge this fall. Gruver lost 11 seniors off those talented teams including Division I prospect Jalin Conyers to the University of Oklahoma. Brandon also knows he doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel in Gruver, however, his biggest challenge now is not getting to see his players due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s a lot of work we have to do once we get to see the players again,” Brandon said. “I should be a lot busier now, so that’s a little difficult. They don’t necessarily need a new philosophy, but we are going to have to learn a new scheme. The main thing I want to establish is a mindset of being physical.”
Brandon has been married to his wife, Karlon, for 14 years. The couple have two boys, Lane, 9-years old and Kason, 7-years old.