One of the unusual things that can happen in high school

football is when a former player comes home to coach a football game. The

unusual part is when the coach is on the visitor side of the field. This will happen tonight when Clint Hartsfield, the new Athletic Director/ Head

Football Coach will come to Bridge City to put his Kelly Bulldogs against his old

Bridge City Cardinals.

Hartsfield is a 1988 graduate of Bridge City High

School with deep roots. His mother Alice Hartsfield is a 1968 graduate and was

in the class when the Cardinals became state champions in the 1967 season and

his grandfather is Don Cole, the longtime owner of Cole Plumbing and a former

Precinct 3 Commissioner.

“I have real mixed emotions about the game. It is a

thrill to be coming home for the game. I want my team to win very badly, but I

do not like the thought of whipping the Cardinals,” said Hartsfield. “I have

some old friends that will give me a hard time however the game goes.”

After serving as an assistant coach at Vidor High School

and Edison Middle School in Port Arthur Hartsfield has spent the last 12 years

as a coach at St. Anne Middle School in Beaumont. He has a total of 17 years as

a coach.

“I was really surprised when they called me back for

a second interview. I really did not think I had much of a chance since my

prior coaching had been Jr. High.” said Hartsfield.

The selectors at Kelly evidently disagreed with his

outlook as he was selected over coaches that included Larry Haynes of Hardin.

Haynes is currently the winningest active coach in Southeast Texas.

His 12 years at St. Anne puts Hartsfield in a unique

position. A number of the current

players on the Kelly squad have been his former players at St. Anne.

“I think I have a good thing with my players in a

way,” said Hartsfield. “They know me and I know them as well as most of the

parents. They (the parents) may be a little more forgiving if we get into a win

a few lose a few position.”

“Because of his long term commitment to Catholic

Education, his familiarity with most Kelly High School student athletes and

their parents, his coaching experience and success with the St. Anne football

program and other sports programs, all well as his genuine concern for all

student athletes across the entire athletic program I believe that Mr.

Hartsfield is the very best fit for the athletic program here at Kelly High

School as well as our entire school and community,” said Roger Bemis, Kelly

principal when announcing Hartsfield’s selection.

Hartsfield was raised Roman Catholic and remains

true to his beliefs. He is impressed, but not surprised by the devotion of his

team members to their church.

“Every Friday most of our varsity attends Mass. I

want to be more than a coach. I believe that I have a responsibility to be a

spiritual leader as well,” said Hartsfield.

Hartsfield believes that effort should be put into

making a football program a winning program, but that the psychological and

spiritual side needs to be addressed as well.

“We are the smallest school in our conference with

215 students. St. Thomas has over 700 and the rest are in between. We have to

work hard to make Kelly a winner, but I do not want to win at the expense of

all else. I want to be sure that the values we install in our players address

more of life than just winning a ball game,” said Hartsfield. “The Bridge City

game should be a great game. I went to school with some of the Cardinals dads

and know more. They were tough players and their sons are probably just as

tough. It will good to see some old friends and classmates again no matter how

the game goes.”