Robert Lee hires former Water Valley football coach Nathan Hayes

Robert Lee ISD has hired former Water Valley coach Nathan Hayes to lead its football program, District Superintendent Dr Aaron Hood confirmed on Friday.

Hayes will replace Adam Cline, who coached the Steers last year, but will return to his role as the boys’ assistant coach, Hood said. Hayes will serve as the sporting director and head football coach.

The district has made two other major moves recently, the administrator confirmed.

To replace girls’ basketball head coach Brandye Wilson, who led the Lady Steers to the UIL State Basketball Tournament for the first time since 1978, the district brought on Bud Halfman. The former Olfen and Blackwell coach will serve as the girls’ sports coordinator.

Steven Hayes, former Water Valley boys’ basketball coach, will follow his brother Nathan to Robert Lee to replace Don Brown, the boys’ head basketball coach who will continue to serve as the boys’ assistant coach, said confirmed Hood.

Nathan Hayes led Water Valley to a 12-1 record and a trip to the state quarterfinals last year in Class 1A Division I six-a-side football.

However, enrollment at Water Valley has blossomed in recent years and the school was realigned to Class 2A and 11-player football earlier this year.

Hayes, who never coached at the 11-man level in his 18-season career, opted to leave Water Valley after three seasons, despite being offered the opportunity to continue as Wildcats head coach. .

Charles Boles has been hired to lead the Water Valley program in Class 2A and 11 football.

A Blackwell native and graduate of Angelo State University, Hayes has coached at Lohn, Jayton, Blackwell, Crowell and Coolidge.

At Crowell, he won back-to-back state championships and compiled a 64-14 record.

At Water Valley, Hayes took over a team that was 3-6 the previous year. After a 4-6 first season and a rocky start to the second when COVID shut down most of the non-district schedule, the 2020 Wildcats were 6-3 and knocked out a defending champion to claim an undefeated district title. This team also won a first-round playoff game.

In 2021, the Wildcats started hot and reached the No. 4 ranking in the state as they advanced to the third round of the playoffs before losing to eventual state finalist May.

Much of Hayes’ 2021 team was made up of seniors he inherited as a sophomore, but one of the best players was his freshman son Tallon, who ended up earning all-state honors at the linebacker position.

Halfmann, an Olfen native who graduated from Ballinger in 1988 and graduated from Angelo State University, served as Olfen’s head football coach and athletic director for a year before returning to coaching women’s basketball.

A 26-year-old veteran coach, Halfmann has had the most success in his career coaching girls’ basketball and athletics at Blackwell. There, he led the Lady Hornets to less than two Women’s State Tournament wins and coached the track and field team to a regional title.

Hood said he was delighted to have a coach like Halfmann to replace Wilson, whose retirement plans, while not widely publicized, had not been unknown to the school and community since the start of the year. school.

“Half the battle is getting the kids to run through a brick wall for you, and that’s what (Wilson) did,” Hood said of the coach who led the Lady Steers in the national final. “I hope we can do another race in the next few years. We are quite excited.

Halfmann began his career at Olfen, where he worked for 17 years before leaving for a stint at Paint Rock and then Blackwell.

His move to Robert Lee leaves a vacancy at Olfen, a Runnels County school that has struggled to compete at the varsity level in athletics since the small school decided to expand to full K-12 enrollment. year in 2017. He was the second DA and head football coach for two college competitive seasons for the Mustangs. Halfmann also coached men’s basketball last year at Olfen.

Steven Hayes, who has coached playoff basketball teams in both Veribest and Water Valley, recently led Water Valley to a 23-9 record, a No. of a regional final. It was the first time in eight years that the Wildcats participated in the regional tournament.

Hood spoke about the competitive nature of Level 1A men’s football and basketball in West Texas, where Robert Lee was lined up with Sterling City and Westbrook in a football district and Irion County in a district. of basketball.

“We mingled with state champions or at least state (tournament) qualifiers,” Hood said. “It hasn’t been really easy for our programs.”

Sterling City won the state football championship in 2020, while Westbrook won it last year.

The Steers have struggled to win just two games in each of the past two football seasons under two different head coaches: Cline and six-man Hall of Fame coach Karry Owens.

For the next two seasons, Robert Lee will be in a football neighborhood with Eden, Irion County, Veribest and six-man newcomer Menard.

Robert Lee’s boys and girls basketball teams will compete in a district against Blackwell, Bronte, Garden City, Irion County and Veribest.

Amy McDaniel is a multimedia sports journalist. Send topical advice to Consider supporting West Texas journalism with a subscription to

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