Comanche football coach Hermesmeyer accepts new job at Troy

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Comanche head football coach Stephen Hermesmeyer congratulates City View for their 27-26 win over the Indians Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in Mineral Wells.

Stephen Hermesmeyer has put together an 84-64 record with 12 playoff berths in 13 seasons as head football coach at Winters and Comanche combined.

But the 1997 Angelo State University graduate carries more than a winning record to his new job at Troy, located between Waco and Temple on Interstate 35. Hermesmeyer has gained a reputation as a solid athletic director, earned by his impeccable organizational skills and attention to all sports.

In the locker room, football helmets, shoulder pads and practice gear worn by Hermesmeyer’s players are put up in the same way in the same place. Equipment is stored in the same neat manner during the offseason.

“That comes from my mom and dad,” said Hermesmeyer, who grew up a small-town kid in Panhandle. “We all had weekly chores around the house, whether it was dusting or running the vacuum. My parents pounded it into our heads that we were going to have a clean house and a nice yard.”

Hermesmeyer carried those childhood lessons into coaching.

Comanche football coach Stephen Hermesmeyer celebrates a touchdown against Eastland on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, at Indian Stadium in Comanche.

“I truly believe that if you’re the athletic director, you should want your facilities to be clean and look nice. If someone popped in to visit, it says something about you if your locker room is messy with stuff all thrown in the floor,” he said.

“Those things fall under what I call the little things that get us by in life. We get chances to prove ourselves with bigger challenges if we take care of the little things — whether it’s keeping the weight room clean or cleaning out the bus after a football road trip.”

Hermesmeyer coached one of the most successful seasons in school history at both Winters and Comanche. But he is also known as an AD that keeps a watchful eye on all sports — from hiring coaches to cheering on the teams to making sure guidelines are followed.

“After my first football season as a head coach at Winters (in 2008), I learned that football lasts about four months out of the year and that leaves eight months for other sports,” Hermesmeyer said. “Some kids in those sports play football, too, but some don’t. And they deserve the athletic director’s support as much as the football players.

“If you roll a ball out there, you should want to be competitive and try to win.”

Being an AD/head coach at a smaller school also requires skills for hiring coaches that can effectively teach multiple sports.

“I want to hire the best baseball coach and teacher I can find, but they also have to coach basketball or football,” Hermesmeyer said. “I want them to love their sport, but they have to flip a switch and become a professional at coaching other sports as well.

“I want the kids to see that our coaches are teachers like everybody else at the school.”

Comanche coach Stephen Hermesmeyer directs his players during practice on Wed., Oct. 11 in Comanche.

Hermesmeyer coached Winters to a 9-4 record and two playoff wins in 2011 — marking one of six years in which the Blizzards have won multiple playoff games in a season.

He also coached Comanche to a 61-42 record and eight playoff berths over the last nine seasons. That included a 12-2 finish and state quarterfinals berth in 2017, when the Indians tied the school record with three playoff wins in a season.

Hermesmeyer accomplished these feats with a philosophy of playing physical football, including the old-school, quarterback-under-center Wing-T offense. It’s an offense that relies on sweeps, power and misdirection runs, trap blocking, and play-action passing.

That philosophy should make for an interesting contrast for Hermesmeyer, who has coached in West Texas his entire career. Now he’s moving to District 11-3A Division I along the Interstate 35 corridor. His new seven-team district include tradition-rich programs known more for their wide-open offenses — teams like Rockdale, Cameron Yoe, Lorena, Little River Academy, Caldwell and McGregor.

“I know football has changed a lot, with more teams going to the spread and the passing game. There’s nothing wrong with that,” Hermesmeyer said. “My philosophy is that your offense has to be similar to your defense. If we want to be physical on defense, we have to be physical on offense.

“I guess that makes me an oddball, but that can be a good thing. If everybody else is in the spread, that means teams only have three days to prepare for what we do differently. That gives us an advantage.”

Troy has had recent success, including a 12-2 finish in 2019, as a downhill running team — which should ease Hermesmeyer’s transition.

The 48-year-old coach said there was no particular reason for leaving Comanche.

“It was not anything other than we’d enjoyed nine great years at Comanche,” Hermesmeyer said. “I couldn’t have asked for more from the players, the school and the community. It was just time for me to make a change, professionally.

“Troy has been successful, and they’re in a really tough district. That’s the catch for me. It’s something to get me going again. I’ve never been one to go just one time around at the places where I’ve coached. I’m looking at this (Troy) as my last coaching job.”