To the surprise of many Wednesday afternoon, Meadowdale High School Head Football Coach Matt Leonard informed his team that he has stepped down effective immediately to accept a position at Weiss High School in Pflugerville, Texas.
Leonard spent four seasons as Meadowdale’s head coach, compiling an overall record of 25-20, highlighted by a school best run in 2016 to the 3A football final four. The memorable state run included the miraculous come-from-behind victory over Kelso on a touchdown pass from Drew Tingstad to Haelin Roberts with less than a minute to play.
Leonard will join the Wolves staff at Weiss High School, where he will look to build a competitive program. A relatively new school, entering just its third year in the fall, Weiss will compete as a 5A classification school, which in Texas includes 252 schools with enrollments of between 1,150-2,189 students. He will serve as the varsity safeties coach and will also be the school’s head wrestling coach, in addition to teaching two history classes.
For Leonard, who has personal coaching goals beyond the high school ranks, this boiled down to an opportunity that was too good to pass up.
“When the teacher cuts were happening, I was told I would likely lose my job and I should probably start looking,” he explained. “I’ve flirted with the idea of Texas in the past and my brother lives there so I reached out to some coaches about openings I saw online. A coach contacted me a few weeks ago and we hit it off.
“My intention was just to make a connection for down the road but as we talked more and more, he became very interested in me and offered me the head wrestling job on as well,” Leonard continued. “That’s when I got serious of possibly taking it.”
Leaving Meadowdale, he said, “was an extremely hard decision. The kids were really the only thing that gave me pause. We’ve had a tremendous winter, and both sports I coach are going to be very good next year. (Leonard is also an assistant wrestling coach). “I’ve worked extremely hard to get things on track, so it is very hard to leave such a talented group,” he added.
“I also have a ton of amazing friends who work there (at Meadowdale) and I know how rare it is to love the people you work with,” Leonard said. “I also am aware of the relationships I’ve built and the impact I have with so many kids and hurting those kids is about the most awful feeling in the world.” However, at the end of the day, he added “it’s a dream to coach big time ball down the road and this is how I can make that happen.”
For now, it’s up in the air as to who will lead Meadowdale football. Defensive coordinator James Harmon will step in and facilitate the remainder of the spring football practices and team camp while the school determines its next steps.
Leonard also had this message for the Meadowdale community: “I think anyone who knows me knows I’ve given literally everything I had to every kid in that school for the past five years,” he said. “I love those kids and it’s been an honor and a privilege to lead them. The run we made a few years ago (in 2016) should have a movie made about it and will be memories I cherish for the rest of my life. I encourage the boys to go for “it” all the time and while scary as heck, this is me going for it.”
— By Scott Williams