Stratford honors legendary football coach Eddie Metcalf with special field induction

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Former Stratford Elk football coach Eddie Metcalf, middle, was honored with a special field induction on Saturday at E.L. Sam Bass Stadium in Stratford. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Stratford ISD took time Saturday to welcome faithful fans, former players along with coaches from past and present to all honor legendary head coach Eddie Metcalf with a special field induction.

Going forward, Stratford’s E.L. Sam Bass Stadium, will now be known as Eddie Metcalf Field at E.L. Sam Bass Stadium paying homage to one of the more iconic and charismatic football coaches in Texas Panhandle history.

The humble Metcalf received a plaque of his achievements and since the Elks will never waver from the traditional grass surface, his banner will hang over the players entrance where they make their way on the field.

For Metcalf, this was truly a day he’ll never forget.

“This is a true honor and a blessing,” Metcalf said. “Besides getting married and having a daughter, this is probably number three in the books. It beats any state championship or any victory simply because of what this is. This is about a lifetime of work so it will be number three in my book.”

Metcalf came to Stratford as an assistant with former head coach Brad Thiessen in 1994 and immediately fell in love with the close-knit community. Under Thiessen, the Elks won the school’s first UIL state football championship in 2000.

After taking over for Thiessen, Metcalf spent 11 years as the Elks head coach elevating Stratford’s tradition. Under Metcalf, Stratford’s reputation for physical toughness grew especially through Metcalf’s distinct gruff voice that could be heard a mile away and his famous short sleeve shirts on the sideline no matter how cold the elements were outside.

In those 11 years the Elks cemented themselves as a Texas Panhandle and state-wide blueblood, going 115-31 winning state championships in 2005 and 2008. Stratford was also 30-8 in the playoffs under Metcalf.

Many of those players were on hand Saturday paying respect and saying their thank you to Metcalf, something that isn’t lost on him.

“Seeing the former players is always very special,” Metcalf said. “You have those relationships in high school then most of them leave. You then call them, or they call you but when you get to see these guys in person those memories immediately all come back. It’s fun to relive those memories.”

Amarillo ISD athletic director and former Stratford football coach Brad Thiessen, right, was a keynote speaker during Eddie Metcalf’s field induction Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
Stratford superintendent Dr. Paul Uttley and the school board organized the event in the best way possible. Metcalf’s good friend and former assistant Lance Horsford moderated the induction and Uttley brought in two keynote speakers.

The first was only fitting in Thiessen. Thiessen and Metcalf spent 13 years together, the first three under former Lubbock Roosevelt coach Clement Mancini, who was also in attendance.

“Coach Metcalf was hard on players,” Thiessen said. ” But he could do that because he knew that he loved them. If they know that you are doing it for the right reason the players can be coached. He wanted them to be better.

“Seeing coach Metcalf getting this field named after him is great for the community. He’s a community member here in Stratford. He made this his home. He had chances to leave and stayed. This is a way the community is saying thank you and it’s very honorable for them to do that.”

Former Canadian head football coach and now Seminole ISD superintendent Kyle Lynch spoke on his friendship and respect for Eddie Metcalf on Saturday. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
In a very class act move, Uttley then brought in a rival coach to speak on Metcalf’s behalf in former Canadian head coach and now Seminole ISD superintendent Kyle Lynch.

Lynch never dreamed he’d be standing in front of Stratford fans getting a positive ovation but there it was Saturday. Lynch credits Metcalf for that and credits Metcalf for making him and his Wildcat program better during their many battles during the mid 2000’s.

“Without a doubt this was a huge honor,” Lynch said. “This says a lot about coach Metcalf and how everyone feels about him. When they made that call, I was all in. He’s a great friend. We made each other better and they changed a lot of how we did things.

“I love coach Metcalf. I love his standard of excellence. He always held his players accountable and pushed them hard. He also had a big heart to go with that. I think that’s the true balance as a head coach. He’s a great example of that.”

Legendary Eddie Metcalf won 115 games in 11 seasons at Stratford. [James Abel/ Press Pass Sports]
With his old school and tough exterior Metcalf couldn’t shy away from shedding a tear on Saturday. With his mother, Ann, his wife Stacy, and his daughter, Carlee, all there along with a stadium full of people there to say thank you, the moment caught up to him.

“I’m not an emotional person,” Metcalf said. “Today was hard though and it was hard to talk. You are overwhelmed with so many people. There are so many people you want to thank and so many things you want to say. This was just very special.”

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