Ford built tough

New head football coach shares details of his life, career


Parker Nolan

A mid-year coaching switch leaves Todd Ford the head coach of the football team starting early 2016.

Nick Smith, Staff Reporter

Though Todd Ford was hired two weeks ago for the head football coaching position, much of the community hasn’t had a chance to get to know the new leader of the Leopard program. While Superintendent Ted Moore gave a brief description of Ford’s personality and ambitions in the hiring announcement, the question still arises:

Who is Todd Ford?

Ford grew up in a small town named Freer, located between Corpus Christi and Laredo in south Texas. While many athletes have been playing ever since they could catch, Ford began his football career in middle school where he played for his father. As he entered high school, Ford continued to play football and found a variety of other things to fill his free time.

“I played five sports in high school: football, basketball, baseball, track, golf,” Ford said. “Needless to say, I had little downtime and was always busy. Sports was really central to our community which pulled me to playing so many. The town had great traditions, but also high expectations as it was very important we won every year in all sports, which we did. Growing up in Freer was an amazing experience overall.”

After high school, Ford had plans to attend college to play football and was thus faced with the difficult task of deciding which school he wanted to play for. Ford said the recruiting process was  different when he was a senior compared to how it is today as recruiting didn’t begin with high school athletes until the middle of their senior year. After careful consideration, Ford decided to attend Blinn College in Brenham, Texas with plans to attend University of Texas in Austin after two years.

“It was a gift to be a part of the University of Texas as well as the traditions and expectations that came with the college,” Ford said. “We were fortunate enough to go to two bowl games while I was there, which were a win in the Sun Bowl against North Carolina and a loss against Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl. I met a lot of great players and great guys that I’m fortunate enough to still call friends.”

Ford never saw the the field during his time playing for the University of Texas in 1994-1995 despite working himself from eighth to third on the quarterback depth chart. He was injured as junior around the the Sun Bowl and attempted to nurse the injury back to health to have an opportunity to play during his senior year though doctors decided another surgery was needed which finished out his senior year. After graduation, Ford decided he wanted to go into coaching and education.

“My parents are educators, my dad was a coach and my mom a business teacher,” Ford said. “I knew that was the direction I wanted to take after graduation. I was hired at Carrollton Newman Smith by Todd Dodge and that started me off on my teaching and coaching career.”

Ford eventually followed Dodge to Southlake Carroll where the pair built upon an already distinguished football program, adding four state championships to the school’s previous three and amassing 98 wins with only 11 losses, including a 48-game win streak.

“If I could describe my time at Southlake Carroll, it was just special in every capacity,” Ford said. “Special in a way that the community was tremendous in their support of the school, academics, and athletics programs. We didn’t necessarily have the best players but they worked harder than their opponents and that led to a culture of unbelievable success. Our staff was amazing in all aspects of their life, on and off the field. The administration had steep expectations and wanted what was best for their kids obviously with that in hand you can do great things.”

While Ford and Dodge were in the midst of a win streak, the head coaching position at the University of North Texas opened up and the college contacted Dodge to gauge interest. Dodge eventually took the position and brought Ford into the staff to be his offensive coordinator. After three years at UNT, the opportunity for Ford to be a head coach of a high school football program arose at newly-built Cedar Ridge High School.

“I was completely happy at UNT when I was called by the principal of Cedar Ridge, who had just been hired and tasked with hiring a staff,” Ford said. “He called to gauge my interests and I had previously known the principal because he was the same principal at Southlake Carroll when I coached there. I knew I ultimately wanted to be a head coach and working under him would the right move for me. So I accepted the job and we’ve never looked back since.”

Ford said starting a new football program was quite a large undertaking. By the time the season started the team had worked out at three different locations as the school’s facilities weren’t ready. Every piece of equipment, from pads to helmet sticker, had to be bought and had to come thru Ford which he said was an enormous task to handle on top of hiring a coaching staff. Ford lead the program to a 26-19 record over four years, including three playoff runs and a 2015 season where the team went 10-2. At the end of the season, Ford said his family decided to make a change and become Lovejoy’s newest head coach.

“What really brought me to Lovejoy was the position, this community, and that these kids remind me a lot of previous places I had been,” Ford said. “First and foremost the academic piece this district provides is one I can’t wait for my own kids to get into. The community expectations are high, the support from the administration is fantastic, and it’s just a situation where you have to evaluate and ultimately make a decision for what’s best for your family. I had a really great job in Round Rock but I felt like this was a great job too and a better move for my family.”

It’s been two weeks since Ford was hired to be the head coach and he has now met the coaching staff, the football players, as well as many parts to administration. With his evaluation of the current state of the program nearing completion, many wonder what changes will be made and what will stay the same.

“I will take pride in evaluating the staff that we have here and obviously I will bring in some new staff members,” Ford said. “I am very proud of the fact that I have been able to hire great men, strong leaders. I think you do that wherever you are because you want your kids to be with the best and it’s my job to bring in the best. Concerning the traditions of the school, the ones that have been in place here will speak to me pretty loudly, and if it’s something we can continue, I would love to continue it.”

Once the changes are made within the program, Ford said he is looking to the future and the upcoming 2016 season with the direction he wants to the program in.

“Our goals will be the same in 2016 as they are in every year here which is to win a district championship, practice on thanksgiving and ultimately play in December,” Ford said. “Those are three pretty powerful goals, but we don’t have 8-12 of them, we want to keep it simple.

With Ford’s goals laid out, Ford said it is now just a matter of taking steps every day to reach the objective of playing in front of the Lovejoy community in December.

“I think there’s several obvious steps to getting there but the most important one is committing to hard work,” Ford said. “It’s just a culture of hard work and something I can bring any professional athlete in and they will say the same thing. When you have everyone buying into collectively working towards something and outwork our opponent, that can be a very powerful thing. Hopefully that can lead us in the direction I want.”