Although he's actually a Big Lake native, Shane Mobley said his hiring Monday as head football coach and athletic director at Sweetwater High School feels like coming home.
In a sense, he's right.
Mobley — unanimously hired by the Sweetwater ISD board at its regular monthly meeting to replace Craig Slaughter, who resigned last month— not only has deep roots in West Texas, but is returning to a place where he has coached previously and where his wife, Tecka, grew up.
"I'm very fired up for this," he said. "The fact is, I'm ready to come back to West Texas with my family."
For four years, from 2004 through 2007, the 36-year-old Mobley was an assistant coach here under highly-successful Kent Jackson. During that time Sweetwater averaged 10 wins a season, made the playoffs each year and in 2005 advanced all the way to the Class 3A, Division II state semifinals.
Mobley was linebackers coach here in '04 and '05, but was then promoted to defensive coordinator for the next two years at Sweetwater before leaving in the spring of 2008 to be an assistant to Kent Scott at Prosper, which won the Class 3A, Division I title that fall.
Prior to his first tour of duty here, Mobley in 2000 helped coach another school — Sonora — to the Class 2A, Division I championship when the Broncos were led by Jason Herring.
He began his 15-year coaching career — all as an assistant — at Winters, where he stayed for three years before going to Sonora from 2000-02 and then to Andrews for two seasons before coming to Sweetwater, where the Mustangs compiled a 40-13 record in his four years under Jackson.
Mobley then left West Texas to spend two seasons at Prosper, which is located in the Metroplex area. For the last two years he's been at Class 5A Seguin as assistant head coach under Wayne Walker.
"Winters is a great community," he said of his first coaching job out of college. "But I was like, man, I wonder if one of these days I will ever get to coach in a place like Sweetwater. And then it happened. And now my first head job, I get to come back to Sweetwater. I've been blessed. It's a great honor."
Speaking of his time at Prosper, Mobley said, "It's a whole different environment. There's some great football and some great people up there. But it's not your small West Texas town. It's not that same deal on Friday nights. Up there we had a lot of kids moving in and moving out. The program was always changing."
Mobley begins his new job today, and said he plans to meet as soon as possible with teachers and parents, as well as the current coaches and players,
"I think there's a certain pride in being a Mustang," he said, "and I want our kids to have that and I want them to carry that. My main thing is, when I walk in, I want to make sure the kids are still hungry. Our kids used to play with swagger, and I want to be sure these kids play with confidence. I don't want them to be cocky, but I want them to have swagger."
Mobley said, however, that he has a lot of respect for the other teams that will be in Sweetwater's district (4-3A) for the next two years: Wylie, Snyder, Big Spring and newcomers Monahans and Midland Greenwood, and he expects the same from his players.
"I'm going to make sure that our kids understand that we're going to respect our opponent every Friday night," he said. "It doesn't matter who we line up against. We're not going to fear you, we're going to respect you. And that's the No. 1 thing that I want to teach these kids and get into their hearts, is that we're going to play. And that's all I ask, that we give 100 percent.
"I know that there is going to be a sea of red on Friday nights. I know that with the fans here, there's nothing like Sweetwater, Texas on Friday nights during football season. I've been in several great places, but there's nothing like that Mustang Bowl."
Sweetwater, however, has struggled in football since Mobley left, compiling just a 9-21 record since its last playoff appearance in 2008, which was Jackson's last year.
However, Mobley had nothing but praise for Slaughter, who is now the head football coach at Llano. "Coach Slaughter is a great friend of mine," he said. "We went to college together. I have the utmost respect for him and his coaching staff.
"There's nothing wrong with what Coach Slaughter has done with this program. It's just that I want to try to grab the program by the throat and take off and run with it, try to do it the way that I see fit."
Mobley beat out over 100 other persons who applied for the head coaching job at Sweetwater after Slaughter resigned. He was announced as the lone finalist last week before school trustees made the decision official on Monday night.
"There are some great, great coaches out there," Mobley said. "And everything that I do has come from certain coaches that I played for. And I've been around some great, great coaches."
He said Monday that he is humbled to be chosen as Sweetwater's new head football coach.
"It's a deal where, you know, I'm honored to have this opportunity," Mobley said.