Harper Looks To Breathe Fire Into Dragons

High school football coaches really don't retire. At least Bill Harper didn't, when he decided to come out of retirement to take the leadership of the Nacogdoches football program.

Harper had turned in his whistle following the 2002 season after serving as boss at Marshall for 11 years. But when Chuck Caniford moved from Nacogdoches to New Braunfels, the lure of the game brought Harper off the porch.

Harper has actually coaches for 34 years, and that was a huge factor in his hiring, according to two people on the search committee.

At Nacogdoches, Harper faces the challenge of turning around a moribund program that has not had a winning season or playoff appearance since 1992.

The odds favor Harper producing a turnaround. He was 71-55-2 at Marshall. He served as defensive coordinator at Marshall in 1990 when the Mavericks won the Class 5A Division I state championship. While at Marshall, his teams reached the playoffs four times and won two district titles in a power-packed 5A district that included Tyler Lee, Tyler John Tyler, Lufkin and Longview.

Interestingly, both Nacogdoches and Marshall have in recent seasons dropped down to 4A. Now, Harper wants the Dragons to enjoy the success his career has embodied elsewhere.

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