Aledo football has flourished under the leadership of Head Coach Tim Buchanan and Athletic Director Steve Wood, who have collectively guided the Bearcats to a record-tying eight state championships.
Buchanan, who arrived in Aledo in 1993, led the program to its first five state titles, along with a 227-53-3 record before becoming the district’s full-time athletic director in 2014.
It was at that point when Wood, who originally joined Buchanan’s staff in 2002, took the reins, seamlessly continuing that winning tradition with three more state championships and a 75-4 record in five years at the helm.
Then back in January of this year, the pair of championship coaches shocked the Texas high school football world, with Buchanan announcing he would once more take over as head football coach, while Wood would be promoted to the athletic director position.
While certainly a unique situation, Buchanan said the level of trust between Wood and himself has made the switch, just like when the pair took their new positions back in 2014, a smooth transition.
“Steve and I had known each other through coaching circles before he came to work here in 2002,” Buchanan said.
“When you work together for as long as we have, you build a trust and confidence in each other. Doing something like we did is a lot easier when you have that relationship and trust and confidence like we do.
“There was no doubt whenever we made the first switch when I went to be full-time AD and he became the head coach that he was gonna be able to continue the football program and even make it better, which he did, because he did not have to worry about athletic director duties that I was having to do prior to becoming full time AD.
“I know that Steve will go in as the athletic director and continue to work and make it better.”
That respect is mutual, with Wood saying Buchanan has always been an exceptional resource.
“He’s been here for an awful long time, he knows the ropes,” Wood said.
“Obviously I’ve coached a long time, but all that being said, there’s a lot that goes into it, little things you don’t think about a lot of the time, paperwork and details. He was here for me when I needed that. There’s plenty I didn’t know about this job when I took it. There’s a lot of little things that come up you don’t even consider until you sit here in this chair.
“He’s been an unbelievable help. The fact that he’s still here just makes it so comforting because there are things that come up and make you a little anxious. I can always call him, so that’s good.”
While a position switch like the one Buchanan and Wood made could theoretically lead to some awkward changes in dynamics, both Aledo fixtures stressed that has never come up, and is not a concern.
“I don’t think it’s come up any,” Wood said.
“I don’t think it’s been an issue. It’s not about who’s in charge or who’s not in charge. We both think there’s a job to be done, so that’s never even been a topic. It’s unique to say the least in that [in light of the switch] I think we work well together.”
Buchanan echoed his colleague’s comments, while adding that Wood and himself are united in a common goal of improving Aledo athletics and guiding its young student athletes toward bright and productive futures.
“There was very little change from when we made the [original] switch back in 2014,” Buchanan said.
“Practice organization stayed pretty close to the same, our staffs have stayed pretty much the same, our offense has stayed the same, our defense has stayed the same. Things have stayed pretty consistent over the years.
“You’re always trying to improve. You’re trying to get your athletes to improve on a daily basis, you’re trying to get your coaches to improve on a daily basis, you’re trying to get your program to improve on a daily basis.
“That’s what Steve does, that’s what I do. It’s great having interchangeable parts in the machine like we have here.”
Able to lean on each other for help in their respective duties, Buchanan and Wood’s transition this spring and summer has come with a few minor changes for both men, although nothing major.
“I don’t have the contact with the coaches and kids I had before day in and day out,” Wood said.
“That’s been an adjustment. The hours haven’t been much different. I’ve been to a lot of different sporting events. I typically always went to something that was here, but I traveled more. The work hasn’t been a big adjustment.”
Buchanan also cited the interaction with Aledo’s student athletes as arguably the biggest change in his own case.
“The biggest thing as a head coach is, you’re around kids everyday,” Buchanan said.
With that being said, both Buchanan and Wood have been enjoying their new roles within Aledo’s athletic department.
“The way I look at it is, I’m getting to coach again,” Buchanan said.
“When I made the move five years ago and went full-time AD, I did it because both jobs had really gotten too big for one person to do. In 2013 I was the athletic director and head football coach and I did not have a secretary, much less an assistant AD or anything of that nature. I knew that either I had to go become the full-time head football coach and they had to hire a new AD, or I had to become the AD and Coach Wood would take over, and I felt that was the best option.
“After five years of being a full-time AD, I missed coaching to the point where I did not want to be an AD anymore, [so] when Steve said he wanted the job, it was a no-brainer for me. When [Aledo ISD Superintendent] Dr. [Susan] Bohn and I started talking about it, I said, ‘I’d love to coach again.’ I’ve missed coaching since I got out in 2014.
“When I had the opportunity to come back, it was an opportunity to do what I love to do, and that’s work with kids. Try to turn boys into young men and productive members of our society. Seeing these boys grow up into young men is really exciting, it makes you want to get up every morning and go to work.”
Wood said the backing and enthusiasm of the community and school district have helped make for a productive and satisfying first six months on the job, while adding that he still remains involved in Aledo football.
“The people are just fun and positive around here,” Wood said.
“That’s one thing I’ll say about this community in general. For the most part people are pretty upbeat and positive which is neat. That’s the way it is over here in this administration building. It’s been an easy transition. Mandy [McCarley] our secretary is unbelievable. She knows nearly everything there is to know about this job.
“I still go down there in the mornings to football and hang out in the offseason. It’s not like I don’t get to go partake and visit with the kids and coaches.
“What you really miss is the competition. How you handle missing that competition, that’s what remains to be seen [for me]. But it’s been good.”
In a little over a month’s time, the Bearcats will take the field searching for their ninth state title.
Having two championship coaches on the same page certainly does not hurt those aspirations.