Allen tried to recruit a coach outside of the football program, and the union only lasted a year.
A year later, five-time state champion Allen tries the same, though this time his new coach isn’t someone with multiple state titles under his belt. Instead, he’s someone who built a program from the ground up and turned it into one of the best Class 4A teams in the state.
Midlothian Heritage’s Lee Wiginton will be Allen’s new head coach, Allen ISD announced on Monday morning. The search process took just over a week, and Wiginton will succeed Chad Morris at the state’s largest high school – the one that had 7,102 enrollment for UIL’s realignment in February.
“I think it’s the best high school job in the country,” Wiginton said. “It’s a tradition of excellence. So many people have done so much, given so much of themselves to lay the groundwork to get here. You talk to the coaches and you say what’s doing a great job…and you’re going to start seeing a lot of things that are verified by Allen Eagle’s football work.
“It’s not just a championship program because it’s a big school. You know the leaders who have been there and how they do it. They didn’t fall for it. It’s been done well for so long. Still a one-horse town, so many things that make it so, so appealing.
Morris, the former SMU and Arkansas head coach, announced May 13 that he was stepping down after a year at Allen to pursue the opportunity to return to college football. Morris won three state titles as a high school coach — one at Bay City in 2000 and consecutive undefeated seasons at Austin Lake Travis in 2008 and 2009 — and also served as the offensive coordinator at Clemson and Auburn before moving on. come to Allen.
Prior to Morris, Allen’s last two head coaches – Tom Westerberg and Terry Gambill – were assistant coaches at Allen before being given the head coaching job. Westerberg worked as an offensive coordinator under Joe Martin, and Gambill served as a defensive coordinator for Westerberg before leaving Allen for six seasons to be head coach at Waco Midway.
Wiginton is the only head coach Midlothian Heritage has ever had, and he was 61-19 in the school’s first six college football seasons. In July, Wiginton was elected president-elect of the Texas High School Coaches Association.
Leaving Heritage was “the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Wiginton said. “I met our coaches this morning, then I met our athletes, and it was an hour of my life that I never want to experience again. They are everything to me. You’re talking about my best friends. It was hard.”
Wiginton said he would stay at Midlothian Heritage for a further two weeks to help with the transition there. He said he plans to keep some of the assistant coaches who are at Allen.
“I know this staff and amazing men and coaches so I’m going to be honored to work with these guys,” Wiginton said. “There are coaches who had already, long before Coach Morris left, had taken promotions this spring, so there are openings. There are going to be opportunities for the people you consider my life support, my entourage, my trusted men. There will be a combination that will be really exciting.
Wiginton has shown the ability to make the playoffs deep. He was Comfort’s head coach in 2005 when the school reached the state semifinals in Division I 2A, and Heritage reached at least the third round of the 4A playoffs in its first four seasons. under Wiginton, including a regional final in 2019. Legacy was 8-4 and lost in the second round of the playoffs last season.
Prior to joining Heritage, Wiginton was head coach at Midlothian High School from 2010 to 2015, and he was head coach and sporting director at Mexia from 2008 to 2010.
“Throughout Texas, Coach Wiginton is known among his peers as a respected leader who coaches his teams with class and integrity,” Allen ISD Director of Athletics Kim Garner said in a press release. . “Coach Wiginton ticked all the right boxes for Allen during the interview process: produce a solid plan to instill a winning culture in all facets of the program, lead with innovation while honoring Allen’s incredible traditions and focus on the importance of uniting our community by ensuring communication between players, coaches, parents and stakeholders We are very excited about the future of the Allen Eagles football program with Coach Wiginton at the rod.
Wiginton has a connection to Allen ISD Superintendent Robin Bullock as they worked at Midlothian ISD at the same time. Before joining Allen ISD in 2013, Bullock served as Deputy Superintendent of Midlothian ISD from 2008 and served as Acting Superintendent in 2010, the year Wiginton was hired at Midlothian High.
Quick coaching searches have become the norm at Allen, despite it being one of the hottest jobs in America.
Allen hired Gambill two weeks after Westerberg left in 2016 to become Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill’s new sporting director and football coach, then Allen needed just 15 days to hire Morris after Gambill announced his retirement in March 2021.
This time, Allen appointed his new coach just 10 days after Morris left.
Wiginton will face pressure to resume a program that has won at least 10 games each of the past 16 seasons. Last year’s 11-3 record was Allen’s most defeats since 2005.
Allen is 46-6 over the past four years, but the state’s biggest school hasn’t won a state title since 2017, when it went 16-0 under Gambill and beat Austin Lake Travis 35-33 in the Division I 6A final. It was Allen’s fourth state title in six years after winning three straight championships from 2012 to 2014 with five-star rookie Kyler Murray at quarterback.
Allen had a choice of successful internal candidates, including offensive coordinator Tristan Weber and defensive coordinator David Branscom. Weber worked for 14 years as an assistant coach at six-time state champion Highland Park and also spent a year at eight-time state champion Southlake Carroll, while Branscom was 37-10 in four years as head coach at San Antonio Brandeis and reached regional finals in 2018 and 2019.
Two former Allen players — Marcus Shavers and Casey Dick — were others Allen might have considered. Shavers is the head coach at McKinney, and Dick is the head coach at Fayetteville, Ark., and just finished second in the state last season.
But for the second year in a row, Allen has stepped out of the program to find someone he hopes can bring the program back to its glory days.
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