FORMER CLOVIS AND Muleshoe assistant coach Eddie Kilmer knew he wasn’t exactly walking into a football cathedral when he took the head coaching job this season at Slaton, Texas.
After all, the Tigers were on a 31-game losing streak, beginning with a playoff loss in 1999 and continuing through consecutive 0-10 marks the past three years.
“Any time you come into that kind of situation, it’s going to be a growing process,” said Kilmer, a 1970 CHS grad who spent 20 seasons (1980-99) as an assistant for the Wildcats under Eric Roanhaus. “The kids have worked extremely hard. The work ethic has really come around.”
The Tigers’ losing streak reached 34 under Kilmer before they broke through with a 31-0 win over Tahoka. They also beat Dimmitt 23-6 in their District 2-3A opener, and take a 2-7 mark to district rival Muleshoe in Friday’s finale for both squads.
Kilmer, now a head coach for the first time, spent the 2000 and 2001 campaigns at Muleshoe coaching under David Wood. The Mules reached the Class 3A state semifinals in his first year.
“Those are good kids over there,” Kilmer said. “I really think a lot of those kids. And I have a lot of respect for the coaching staff.”
Wood said he’s looking forward to the reunion, and expects a competitive game.
“He’s done a good job,” Wood said of Kilmer. “He’s a good motivator and a good coach, and he’ll have them prepared.”
Wood, whose team is 3-6 and will miss the playoffs for the first time since his inaugural season (1996), said he thinks the Tigers are looking for a big win to catapult them to the next level.
“That’s what we had to do here (to get the program going),” Wood said. “I remember our second year we won our last (regular-season) game against (Amarillo) River Road, and that was a big win for us.”
Kilmer said he bases his philosophy on what he learned from Roanhaus, whose teams have won 10 New Mexico large-school state titles over the last quarter-century.
“What we’d like to do is model our program after his,” Kilmer said. “Eric’s a fantastic football coach, and he cares about kids. His record speaks for itself.”
AFTER A ONE-YEAR HIATUS from coaching, Texico’s Buddy Little hopes to get the Lady Wolverines basketball program headed back toward the state level.
Little served as longtime coach Roy King’s assistant from 1997-2002 and helped Texico reach four consecutive Class 2A state championship games, including titles in the last three. King resigned in 2002, and Little became the principal at THS last fall.
It’s a bit unusual to combine the latter role with a head coaching position, but Little said he thinks it will work out.
“It keeps me busy; it keeps me out of trouble,” he said. “I enjoy it because as principal a lot of things you do have to be negative. Here, you can have some positive interaction with the kids.”
His assistant is Wayne Anderson, a former boys coach at House and San Jon and now the principal at Texico Elementary.
Little said he visited by phone on Monday with King, a Kentucky native who this year has taken the girls coaching position at Grayson County High in Litchfield, Ky.
“He’s a good ear for advice,” Little said. “Everything I know I learned from Roy.”
Little expects about a half-dozen girls to join the squad at the conclusion of the volleyball season. Texico hosts a four-team regional this weekend.