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Cedar Creek football program requires a complete reset

Updated: Apr 4

By Jim Irish

Photo by Mike Valiska, Jim Irish

The Cedar Creek football program is in dire straits, a ship adrift in the ocean without a rudder.

Here are the stark facts:

  • Under head coach Josh Thomas, the Eagles have a 1-29 record in the past three seasons;

  • Cedar Creek has lost 25 consecutive games;

  • The Cedar Creek freshmen, junior varsity, and varsity teams had a combined record of 0-38 last season.

Cedar Creek program has plummeted

How has Cedar Creek toppled so far?

Four years ago, Jon Edwards, a Bastrop native and former Bastrop High School football player, coached Cedar Creek to a 5-5 record, the best in the school’s 12-year history. On that 2019 squad was consensus four-star college recruit Alfred Collins, a once-in-a-lifetime athlete and currently a member of the Texas Longhorns football program.

Cedar Creek football coach Josh Thomas

After the season, in early January 2020, Edwards was unjustly terminated in a shocking turn of events. Then-athletic director Andy Sexton said to Edwards only that “it’s time for a change.” No reason given.

No one in the administration supported Jon Edwards. He stood alone.

Edwards and his former assistant coaches said a “disgruntled” parent was responsible for his demise. His sin was that he shifted the parent’s son from quarterback to wide receiver late in the season. He said he explained to the parent during several meetings that he wanted the best eleven athletes on the field.

Jon Edwards was object of retaliation

The parent refused to accept Edwards’ explanation and used influence with the Bastrop ISD board of trustees to green light his dismissal. He was the object of retaliation.

The irony is that the young athlete at the center of the controversy now starts for a university football team — at wide receiver. With years of coaching experience, Edwards proved correct in his assessment and decision, but he paid a heavy price.

Bryan Hill, the son of Larry Hill, long-time coach at Smithson Valley, replaced Edwards. After a shortened Covid season in 2020 with a 2-7 record, Hill apparently decided that there was little future for the program and resigned.

Cedar Creek football has not recovered since Edwards’ departure

Thomas, also a Bastrop native and former Bastrop football player, was then promoted from an assistant to interim head coach. Never a highly successful football program, Cedar Creek has not recovered since Edwards’ departure. The athletes have proven capable of competing in the first half of games but are overwhelmed in the second half.

To his credit, Thomas directed a competitive baseball program for five seasons at Cedar Creek, but football has shown no improvement during the three seasons under his command.

Fielding a young team last season will not suffice as an excuse either. Bastrop High School started 10 underclass athletes on both offense and defense last season and compiled a 5-5 record.

Wins will be harder to achieve in higher classification

The Cedar Creek football program has advanced to the state playoffs only once in 12 seasons — under Jon Edwards in 2015. In the four seasons since Edwards’ departure, Cedar Creek has accumulated a 3-36 record. Edwards won more games in one season than the following four seasons combined.

Former Cedar Creek coach Jon Edwards

By comparison, the Cedar Creek boys soccer program has advanced to the playoffs nine seasons and has a tradition of success. Soccer rules at Cedar Creek.

Because of increased enrollment, Cedar Creek was moved after the recent UIL realignment from Class 5A Division II to Division I, which means that it will compete against schools with more quality athletes. Wins will be even more difficult to generate.

Bastrop, which will remain in 5A Division II, and Cedar Creek will not face off against each other in non-district next season for the first time in the two schools’ crosstown rivalry. Anyone want to speculate why?

Jon Edwards remains the only Cedar Creek coach to defeat Bastrop — in 2019.

Five assistant coaches from the program have either departed or informed the school of their departure at the end of the academic year, and more are expected. Seven assistants exited after the previous season. No football program wins with such massive turnover.

When Bastrop ISD hired former Brenham football coach Eliot Allen as athletic director two years ago, superintendent Barry Edwards said in a press release that Allen would “inspire coaches to be their best and to pursue excellence. … He has a track record of building successful programs. …”

Cedar Creek 0-20 on Allen's watch

In the two years since Allen’s arrival, neither Cedar Creek nor Bastrop has reached the football playoffs, although Bastrop made significant strides last season under Jake Griedl.

Bastrop athletic director Eliot Allen

Cedar Creek is 0-20 on Allen’s watch. Where are the success and inspiration of which Barry Edwards spoke two years ago?

Not even Tom Landry, the Dallas Cowboys’ legendary coach, would receive a contract extension with a 1-29 overall record.

The athletic director’s first priority is to evaluate the coaching staff based on performance and then retain or dismiss them.

To date, this hasn’t occurred under Allen as far as Cedar Creek is concerned. How many consecutive 0-10 seasons are permitted?

Tough decisions are mandatory

The athletic director is required to make tough decisions regarding coaching personnel.

The major obstacle confronting Cedar Creek is that the parent involved in kicking Edwards to the curb continues to have overreaching influence on the board of trustees.

Sanity is realizing that you have strayed far off course and initiating a major correction. In the current Cedar Creek debacle, the powers that be are pretending: Nothing to see here. Move along, please.

Former Bastrop football coach Todd Patmon

According to district protocol, future decisions regarding coaches will be announced at the March 19 board meeting. But Bastrop did not follow protocol in the termination of Jon Edwards or Bastrop head coach Todd Patmon, who, despite advancing the Bears to the playoffs in 2021, was ousted by Barry Edwards in December a month after the conclusion of the season. Both Edwards and Patmon had superior overall records than Thomas, yet were terminated.

Where else in football-crazed Texas would a head coach with a 25-game losing skid and a 1-29 overall record receive a contract extension?

Athletes should compete on a level field

The title of Spike Lee’s movie “Do the Right Thing” applies to this untenable scenario.  Whom you know should not supersede what you achieve. America was built on success, not cronyism.

Will anyone speak truth to power?

The Cedar Creek athletes have been struggling to move the football uphill for years. They should be competing on a level field.

Jim Irish is a freelance writer in Bastrop, Texas

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1 Comment

Mar 18

I love how record is the focus rather than more important factors that contribute to a child's whole life after high school....student athlete academic performance, student athlete health and well-being, college readiness and acceptance. Instead of tearing down coaches who bust their tails day after day, let's try asking them how we can support them while they support our students.

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