PARK HILL — Keys football fans will be cheering this fall as a new coach takes the field.
Keys School Board members hired Mel Maxfield during the regular meeting Thursday night.
Maxfield was one of 33 applicants who applied and five who were interviewed for the position, said Steven Goss, High School Principal and Athletic Director.
"I recommend Coach Maxfield,” Goss said. “He's the 33rd winningest high school coach in Texas. While I was impressed on paper, I think he'll be a good fit for our school. We're like-minded."
"And with an emphasis on football, we'll stop losing students to other schools," added Goss.
Goss wanted to go in a different direction with the program. Maxfield replaces Mitchell Crittenden, who went 3-7 in his only season as head coach.
“We decided not to renew his contract,” Goss said Friday.
Goss also said assistant coach Tyler Hughes will not return and the program will add an assistant at a later time. Hughes coached the offensive and defensive lines last year under Crittenden.
Maxfield was introduced Thursday.
"I'm from a coaching family,” he said. “My dad was a high school coach, then a superintendent. I was always around coaching, was just part of things. Even after retiring after 37 years dad continued to coach me."
His dad drove six hours from Texas on Thursday for the school board meeting with Maxfield.
"He was a special guy, they even named an elementary school for him," said Maxfield, who played, "all three sports in high school."
Scholarships took him to the University of Texas Arlington.
"I was blessed growing up I never had a bad coach and I saw the impact they had on me. And I thought if I could have even half the positive effect coaching as those coaches did on me, I'd be grateful," said Maxfield.
His coaching style reflects the tough and with real life skills leadership style he grew up with.
"Back then coaches would hold your feet to the fire, hold you accountable but not with malice," he said.
Maxwell said he took great pride in coaching and built football programs that quit being the Parent Night team for other schools.
"Coaching has been great to me," he said. "The kids, I always got them to play hard, we had some losing records but not many."
Meaning no disrespect, he said, "I care a lot more about what those kids think about me than parents, but of course I also want that parent support. I've learned to be a good listener and let the parents ask questions they have and answer what I can."
Real life skills are part of football.
"I train for post graduate lives, to be on time, be dependable and stay away from drugs and alcohol," he said. "I know the value of athletics for boys and girls, and that they're more likely to go to college and for girls, less likely to be abused."
He also encourages the boys to strive and don't quit.
"Quitting is a bad habit to get into. Strive to be the best sons they can be, the best students, best neighbors."
Offering guidance is part of coaching.
"You learn which ones need a hug around the neck and which ones need spurs," he said. "I'm passionate about helping people do right."
It's important to get the kids involved, he said, "it's a partnership."
Faith is a part of life and sports.
"We pray before games. We know where our blessings come from," he said.
Enthusiasm for football poured from Maxwell as he spoke to the board about his experiences and expectations.
"I enjoy the game and it's been good to me," he said in closing. "You'll get a good days work from me."
Daily Press Sports Editor Byron Beers also contributed to this story