Scott Smith with LHHS player Kent Perkins in 2012. Perkins now plays at UT.

Scott Smith with LHHS player Kent Perkins in 2012. Perkins now plays at UT.

After weeks of speculation, it’s official. Lake Highlands High School’s Scott Smith will become head football coach at Plano West.

Plano West’s coach Mike Hughes announced his retirement Feb. 9, fueling conjecture about who would replace him. Smith previously served as an assistant coach at Plano, and his daughter currently attends Plano West.

Smith announced his decision to Wildcat players Tuesday, then traveled to Plano to be introduced to his new team.

Players – past and present – say they’re sad to see him go.

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“I’m pretty surprised,” says Ricky Zorn, who played for Smith before graduating in 2010 and heading off to play for Harvard.  “I know he came from Plano and has a heart for that area and I’m happy for him, but LH will miss him. He definitely left our program better than he found it. I remember my first year we went 2-7, and the next year we were 10-3. He turned the program around for us.”

“As one of Texas’ 5 largest school aligned in perhaps the most competitive district in the state’s highest classification, there are few jobs in Texas high school football bigger than that one,” says Scott Johnson, former president of the Wildcat Club. “I’m sure the list of candidates was long and distinguished. The fact that he was selected from among that elite group is consistent with everything I already know about Scott Smith, and I cannot be happier for him and his family.”

“It’s been our sincere pleasure over the past 9 years to have gotten to know and work with Coach Smith,” say Bill and Lizzy Cronin, current Wildcat Club presidents. “All 3 of our children have been involved with the football program at LH in some capacity. From a cheerleader to football players and a bell boy, we have seen first-hand his commitment and dedication to our kids both on and off the field. We wish him the very best at Plano West in his new position.”

Whoever is chosen to coach the Wildcats, his players are already looking ahead to the future.

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“It’s exciting to face new challenges,” says Blake Cronin, who’ll be a senior wide receiver next year. “For Coach Smith, it will be for a new job in the community where he lives. For us, we are eager to face what lies ahead.”

“I’m sad because he’s leaving, I like Coach Smith, but I’m excited to see what we can do,” says Sam Spraberry, also a rising senior on the team. “There had been rumors that he might be leaving – we knew he wanted to get back to Plano where he was from.”

“I don’t think next year will be that much different, even with a new coach,” continues Spraberry.” Many of our coaches will be returning, and most of our players have been around since they were sophomores. On the other hand, this is a chance for a fresh start, and I’m excited to see what the new coach can do.”

Though the school celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, Smith is just the sixth man to helm the Wildcats. When LHHS announces its new head coach, we’ll share that with you here on the blog.