WHITEHOUSE — For most, the first morning of preseason practice is an opportunity to get reacquainted with the team. But for Randy McFarlin, this year's opening workout offered him a chance to retool his disciplinary skills.
“I had to get after a couple of defensive lineman,” he said, referring to a stretch when some players appeared to be taking plays off. “I guess they didn't think anyone was watching them, but I was. … It got me going pretty good.”
The Whitehouse head football coach and athletic director was in a familiar place on the first day of two-a-days after a long and arduous offseason. No longer were there question marks about coaching again. No longer were there questions about the August heat being too much for him.
“I'm a little hoarse now, but that comes every afternoon,” McFarlin said. “It was just a great feeling to be able to be there. When something is almost taken away from you and you get to go back and do it again, it's a super feeling.”
On Thanksgiving weekend last year, less than a week after the Wildcats were eliminated from the playoffs, McFarlin and his family were involved in a wreck near Daingerfield.
Experiencing the worst of the two-car collision was McFarlin, who was airlifted from the scene in critical condition and spent more than a month in intensive care.
With support from his family and the community, McFarlin left the hospital in time to watch six of his players sign national letters of intent to play college football in February. He also got to coach in the FCA Heart of a Champion Bowl in June.
On signing day, one of McFarlin’s former players, All-American wide receiver Trey Metoyer, credited the coach with much of his personal success.
“I could definitely say that without him, I wouldn’t be here,” Metoyer said. “He pushed me to work hard and he motivated me and everything. So I give all the thanks to him.”
On Monday, McFarlin was back to motivating other players the same way — and this time, just being there was all he needed. Despite everything he’s been through during the past year, McFarlin hasn’t missed any practices (the Wildcats didn’t hold spring workouts).
“Not missing any practice is a miracle, it really is,” McFarlin said. “It’s great to be out here.”
Last season, McFarlin coached Whitehouse to a 9-3 record and to the second round of the Class 4A Division II playoffs. The Wildcats return only five starters from that team, meaning McFarlin and his staff will be busy putting together a lineup before the season begins Aug. 26.
Almost 200 players from grades 9-12 reported for the first practice, which gave McFarlin confidence about the road ahead.
“They are a great bunch of kids,” McFarlin said. “They are excited to be here and ready to go to work. Of course, we’ve got a lot of spots to fill and, of course, on the first day you always have new problems. About Wednesday the fatigue will hit and we will see if we have that same emotion. But we hit the field like nothing ever happened.”