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Cameron Smith

Playoffs pit coach against friend who saved his life 5 years after attack

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Five years ago, an irate and completely irrational parent of a Canton (Texas) High football player waltzed into the office of then-Canton coach Gary Kinne, pulled out a gun and shot the coach in the stomach. Amazingly, Kinne survived the point-blank assault thanks to multiple surgeries and, first and foremost, his ability to scramble back to his office phone, where he'd been on a phone call with longtime friend and then-West Mesquite offensive coordinator Mike Overton. The coordinator was then able to scramble and make a quick call to the Canton School office, helping police and paramedics locate the coach and get him the immediate medical attention that saved his life.

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Now Kinne and Overton are both head coaches, with Kinne at Sherman and Overton the head coach at West Mesquite. The man who shot Kinne, Jeffrey Doyal Robertson, is spending 20 years in prison on a charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. And, as reported by the Dallas Morning News, a strange twist of fate has the two friends facing off against each other in a Class 4A Division I area playoff game at Cowboys Stadium on Friday night, half a decade after Overton saved Kinne's life.

"You don't want to lose to your friend, but you don't want to see him lose, either," Kinne told the Morning News. "It's easier when you play somebody you don't know."

Kinne and Overton are more than just friends, though. The pair served as offensive and defensive coordinators together at Mesquite, taking a cue from their fathers, who coached together at the school. After Mesquite won the 5A Division I state title in 2001, Overton left to coach Farmersville and Kinne took over at Canton.

After years running along parallel lines and comparing notes each week, the two coaches find themselves back on the same field, though this time they won't be exchanging high fives as they used to in the Mesquite press box.

"At Mesquite, we had some good battles because he was on defense and I was on offense," Overton said. "Now we'll have another battle."

Regardless of who wins, this battle will carry with it a lot less significance than the battle for Kinne's life five years ago. For that, both men can be grateful.

"[It was] kind of a scary thing. Very eerie," Overton told the Morning News.

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