Prep star stays behind when Dad moves to coach across state

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Usually when a head coach leaves his longtime stomping grounds to take over a new position, any family members he has move with he or she. That's not the case with the Spencer Fitzhenry, who is sticking around to star for his hometown Giddings (Texas) High Buffaloes despite the departure of his father, Derek Fitzhenry, who left in March to coach Longview (Texas) Pine Tree High after eight years at Giddings.

Giddings running back Spencer Fitzhenry
Giddings running back Spencer Fitzhenry

It's not like the Fitzhenrys can live together while son plays at one school and father coaches at another; Longview (in East Texas) is some 250 miles from Giddings (in the Central Texas Hill Country).

Still, according to the Austin American-Statesman, Spencer Fitzhenry (pictured on the right in the photo above) felt the need to remain loyal to his longtime teammates and the school at which he spent his first three years.

"Just finish what I started," the rising senior told the Statesman.

Not surprisingly, the younger Fitzhenry took some convincing that staying at Giddings was the right move for him, particularly with the program adjusting to two completely new offensive systems: The Wing T and the spread.

Those offensive schematics are a far cry from the set up used by the Buffaloes in 2010, when the younger Fitzhenry ran for 15 touchdowns as an option quarterback. Now, he's being asked to move to a new position -- running back -- to continue carrying a dominant share of the Buffaloes' load on the ground.

Yet new coach Chris Jones was able to assuage Fitzhenry's doubts, both with the conviction he has in his own football plans and his past history of coaching the sons of other coaches. Spencer Fitzhenry confirmed that he would return for his final year of high school on the final day of the 2010 school year.

In the end, Fitzhenry was won over, though his father said the family will regret his inability to watch his son's games during his final year of high school football, a regret that hasn't kept the elder Fitzhenry from knowing that his son made the right decision for himself.

"That is the roughest part of it — that we won't get to share the last year together," Derek Fitzhenry told the Statesman. "But we got two good years to share together.

"Once he decided to stay there, a weight was lifted off his shoulders."

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