Aug 27, 2014 12:56PM
● By Dia
The uncanny intersection of football & life for Todd Dodge
By Greg Hoy
Todd Dodge sits in his office at the Austin Westlake High School field house recounting the events that led up to his being named head football coach and athletic director of the Chaparrals. When Austin Westlake Coach Darren Allman announced he was moving to Colleyville earlier this year, it was only a matter of days before Dodge and Westlake Superintendent Nola Wellman came to an agreement: Dodge was the right choice for Westlake. “After hearing about Coach Allman leaving
Westlake, I knew there was a great chance it could happen, and it didn’t take long for it to come together,” Dodge recalls. Less than one week, in fact, is all it took for Dodge and Wellman to shake hands. “I think four days,” Dodge says, smiling. “I met the kids on the morning of May 5, and we started spring practice that afternoon. We got right to it.”
As coaches do, Dodge called his old friend and colleague, current Dragon Head Coach Hal Wasson. Wasson and Dodge have been close friends for more than 20 years. They competed in the ’90s when both coached 3A programs, and Wasson was part of Dodge’s staff in 2001 as running back coach and later took more responsibility for the offense in 2002. “I called Hal to tell him I accepted the job, and he told me Westlake was playing Carroll the first game of the year. I had no idea at the time, but we both got sort of a laugh … at the coincidence,” Dodge admits.
And what a coincidence it was. The two coaches date back to a time before Dodge’s legacy caught fire. In the early years, Dodge had a respectable 19-10 record with the Dragons competing at the 4A level, but it wasn’t until the Dragons elevated to 5A in 2002 when things began to click.
“We didn’t know how the kids would react or what to expect,” Dodge says when he recalls being elevated to Class 5A. “We were going to face bigger schools with better players, and just weren’t sure — until the Denison game.”
The Dragons won the first two games of the season by wide margins over Irving and Burleson. However, game three presented a very tall order, traveling on the road and facing a favored Denison on their home field.
But the unexpected happened. The Dragons overwhelmed Denison in front of a partisan packed house, 54-14. “We were in the third quarter and up by two or three scores,” Dodge says. It wasn’t until he looked across the field and saw how quiet it was that he realized how well his team was playing. “I couldn’t hold back and looked over at Hal and asked if we were this good,” Dodge says. “[Hal] said something like ‘you better believe it’ or ‘you betcha.’ It was one of those coaching moments you don’t forget.”
The Dragons went on to win state that year, posting a 16-0 record and being the first team in Texas high school football history to win state the first year after elevating from Division 4A to 5A. What’s more, within Dodge’s budding spread offense, Wasson’s son, Chase, became the first of an impressive run of Dragon quarterbacks to set state records. That year Chase threw for 4,822 yards and 54 touchdowns. Over the next four years, the Dragons won three more state titles and posted a 63-1 record. Dodge’s final win as Southlake’s head coach brought the tally to 98-11.