Brian Huckabay received approval from the Orangefield board of trustees Monday to be the new head coach and athletic director at Orangefield High School, replacing Blake Morrison who resigned in May. 

Along with approval, he also received keys to the field house, where he was bright and early Tuesday for a team workout.

“I went through morning workouts with about 24 players,” Huckabay said. “I was really impressed with the attitude of the kids, that they are ready to adopt a new team personality. To me, that is more important than X’s and O’s right now.”

Huckabay said that even though the Bobcats are coming off a dismal 1-7 season last year, his outlook is the same as a new head coach as it would have been had he been there the past season.

“The first thing I would always establish is my expectations for the new season,” he said. “And what I want these guys to start thinking is: ‘Why not us?’ I want them thinking that they deserve to win. I am starting out with the mental part first, and the X’s and O’s will follow.”

And there will be a change in the way that plays will be drawn up on the board, Huckabay said, as he will implement a slot-T offense.

“It is the nature of the profession for a coach to come in and change to a different offense,” he said. “I already got a call from Jeff (Mathews, head coach) over in Vidor, saying it was nice to have another slot-T guy in the area.”

Though not in school at the same time, Huckabay and Mathews both played football for the Bridge City Cardinals. Huckabay played defensive back and receiver under head Coach Andy Griffin before graduating in 1978.

“I later got a chance to work with Andy at Georgetown High School from 1984 to 1989 as an assistant,” Huckabay said. “In my coaching career I was blessed to work under three great coaches which really gave me great experience. I also worked with Art Briles, who replaced Andy after he left, and I worked under Coach Bruce Bush from 1998 through 2001 in San Marcos.”

Huckabay also has head coaching experience under his belt from his days at Hardin-Jefferson, from 1989-1996, Wharton from 1996-98 and at Omaha Paul Pewitt from 2001-08.

“While I was at Hardin-Jefferson, we played Orangefield and I have always just liked this community,” he said. “I remember once we were supposed to host a track meet but we didn’t have a track. Orangefield let us use their track to host the event. So being here is a good fit for me and it is a good fit for my wife, Mary, as she will be close enough to drive to the Hull-Daisetta district where she is the superintendent.”

Huckabay said he is ready to get to work with team practices on Aug. 3 and back onto the football field in the weeks following, as he has spent the past year behind the desk of an assistant principal’s office at Hull-Daisetta High School.

“Being an assistant principal gave me an opportunity to get a different perception of spending a day in school instead of in the field house,” he said. “It certainly gave me a greater appreciation for the administration, the teachers and the custodial staff that keep the schools functioning, because the real purpose of school is educating the students.

“But I belong on the field,” he said with a grin. “I’m a coach, and I know where I belong.”