Who says you can’t go home? Or at least six miles from home.
Former Van Alstyne Panther four-sport standout Michael Hartsfield has been hired as the new offensive coordinator for the Howe Bulldogs.
Hartsfield, a 2005 graduate at Van Alstyne, started his coaching career in 2011 at a middle school in Allen after graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State University.
Hartsfield compiled an impressive list of honors as a Panther athlete, winning all-district recognition three times on the football field. He also was an all-district basketball player in his senior season.
A member of coach Josh Recer’s 30-4 team, Hartsifled still remembers that painful loss to Wills Point in the bi-district round.
At SOSU he concentrated on academics after making the decision to get into coaching.
“Coach Randy Matthews and his offensive coordinator, Bart Williams at Van Alstyne really influenced my decision to get into coaching,” Hartsfield said.
His first job after college graduation was at Ford Middle School in Allen,Texas, coaching multiple sports there while getting some valuable experience under Eagles head coach Tom Westerberg.
In 2013 he got his first varsity coaching job as receivers coach under Shane Fletcher at Leonard.
The Tigers reached the state semifinals that season.
The following year Hartsfield became the offensive coordinator at Rogers, Texas, a class 3-A school just east of Temple, Texas. That team reached the regional finals.
In 2015 Hartsfield joined the staff of another former Panther, Brandon Layne, at LaVernia.
Layne was on Van Alstyne’s state finals team of 2001, which lost to Blanco in the Class 2-A title game.
LaVernia played into the second round in 2015, Hartsfield’s only year with the Bears.
Layne, and Hartsfield returned to North Texas last season, guiding Ferris.
Hartsfield took the Howe offensive coordinators job in mid-April and is already at work with the Bulldogs.
“Coach Hudson and his staff have done some great things these past three years and I want to be a part of continuing that success,” Hartsfield said. “I wanted to get back closer to my family, I’ve got a lot of relatives in this area, and it was a good fit for me.”
He will be replacing coach Dale West who got the athletic director and head football coaching position at Collinsville.
West was an innovator with the slot-T formation, not something Hartsfield can emulate.
“My experience has been with multiple formations and that’s what we plan to do here at Howe,” Hartsfield said.
As a former Van Alstyne Panther, he looks forward to next season’s game, knowing it will be a little more intense.
“It’s definitely going to be different because I am so familiar with a lot of their coaches,” Hartsfield said. “Coach Miller was at Allen when I coached there, I played football with coach Penn, and of course coach Haynes was my baseball coach in high school.”
It will be a big change for long-time Panther fans, seeing Hartsfield on the other side of the field.