John Irwin dodges the limelight like your cheap brother-in-law when it comes time to pick up the dinner check.
He will tell you credit for any of his coaching success goes to the players. He will tell you he just happened to stumble into talent. Don’t believe him.
John Irwin is a great coach.
He’s been part of successful programs at Clovis, Muleshoe and now Texico, where in typical understated fashion, he serves as athletic director and assistant football coach.
Kids love playing for him because of his passion for the game and compassion for his players.
Don’t let the grandfatherly looks and academic-like glasses fool you, the Los Angeles native who came to this area to play basketball at Eastern New Mexico University and never left, is demanding and he can bark with the best of them. But it’s always positive.
Every “conversation” he has with a player always ends with him saying something positive and encouraging.
That’s not a knock against other coaches but a compliment to Irwin, who turned down head coaching jobs at Clovis and Muleshoe because he shuns the limelight.
In his only head coaching experience, he turned the Muleshoe girls into a Class 3Atrack power in the South Plains.
In a profession where competitive fire blurs the lines of decision-making, Irwin always keeps things in perspective.
His jaw set forward in Bill-Cowher-like fashion, Irwin calmly concocted a game plan Friday to pick apart a quick-but-undersized Jal defense.
He preached patience to his players and other coaches, preferring to err on the side of caution.
In an age of trips and empty backfields, he stuck with the basics he learned as a longtime coach at Gattis Junior High.
Operating out of predominantly the wishbone, the Wolverines rushed for 395 yards in a 43-7 win over Jal that left Texico undefeated at 9-0 heading into the Class 1A playoffs.
John Irwin will say there’s nothing magic about what he does.
His current and former players will beg to differ.
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In the never too soon to look ahead department, the future looks bright for the purple-and-white football program.
The JV Cats mowed down teams this season like a turbo-charged John Deere tractor.
After losing its opener to Lubbock Monterey by one point on a last-second touchdown, the sophomore-laden squad ripped off six-straight wins, outscoring opponents 234-49.
In addition, the sophomore squad was 5-2, with close losses to junior varsity squads from Monterey and Carlsbad, according to coach Steve Speck.
“They just like to play, Speck said. “We had a lot of depth. More depth than I ever remember. The competition against each other in practice every day just made them that much better.”
In a season-ending 24-7 win over Goddard, the JV Cats scored on a kickoff return, punt return and an interception return.
Names to look for in the future include a pair of Sweets, tight end-linebacker Devin and quarterback-defensive back Jonathan, lineman Matt Cordova, Kendal Richards and Chase Denton and running backs Chris Phillips and Tanner Fickling.
Junior quarterback Joseph Pearson also deserves mention along with sophomore running back Devin Hanson, who was called up to the varsity early in the season.
CNJ sports editor Rick White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.