Crossing Patterns (part 2)
Sep 12, 2014 02:47PM
● By Dia
As Dodge steps back into Dragon Stadium, his legacy at Southlake is still etched in the memories of coaches, players and Dragon fans alike. The memory of Dodge’s 98th and final win as the Dragon’s head coach is what makes his current position at Austin Westlake all the more,
“That was a great game,” Dodge says, smiling. “The one where Tre went nuts,” referring to Tre Newton’s 74-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter. Dragon fans will recall the junior tailback breaking nine tackles before scoring and breaking a third-quarter tie, putting the Dragon’s ahead 29-22.
However, although Newton’s touchdown was key, the game’s biggest play occurred later with seven minutes left and the score tied at 29. The play featured Dodge’s son, Riley, tossing up a 30-yard touchdown strike to Anthony Ford.
“I don’t think Riley will ever live that one down,” Dodge says with a laugh.
“But that 2006 squad reminds me a lot of the kids I have now. That team was young and they really battled. They didn’t give up, and these kids remind me a lot of that team. They have a lot of heart, and they will battle.”
If the uncanny aspects of Coach Dodge’s past life as Southlake’s winning head coach stopped here, this would make for a great story. But accepting the new coaching position at Austin Westlake is much more than taking the reigns at a former rival. Dodge is moving back home. The man who led Southlake to four 5A state championships from 2002 to 2006, and whose memory looms large around these parts, is ecstatic about being back in Austin, where he and his family hold quite a legacy.
Austin is his wife Elizabeth’s hometown, and she attended Westlake High School where her father, Ebbie Neptune, was a longtime coach and athletic director. Todd and Elizabeth met in Austin, when both were juniors at The University of Texas, and Todd was the Longhorn quarterback. Now their son, Riley, is at UT as an assistant on Charlie Strong’s Longhorn staff, and their daughter, Molly, is a junior at nearby Texas State University.
So Todd and Elizabeth Dodge are back in Austin, where they first became friends some 30 years ago. They are in a place they can comfortably call home. And Dodge is coaching at a premier Texas high school, where the words “Ebbie Neptune Field” shine brightly.
Todd Dodge considers himself fortunate for his successes in Southlake. During the state championship run, his teams were recognized as mythical national champions three times and USA Today honored him as National Coach of the Year in 2005. Along the way, his impact on the local community was also evident, and he was named Southlake’s Citizen of the Year in 2006. However, he and Elizabeth describe themselves as being blessed to be where they are right now. The move back to Austin and the opportunity to impact the community where they have so many family ties is a privilege they want to embrace for many, many years to come.