Since being hired as Plano Senior’s head football coach, Todd Ford has been through more Zoom calls than he can recount. Through it all, he has assembled a coaching staff to help mold the Wildcats for their upcoming gridiron campaign.
Joining Ford for his first season at the helm will be a staff of 14 coaches, retaining a few from former head coach Jaydon McCullough’s staff along with a bevy of new faces to Plano.
“I think it’s very important that we put expectations as we look to build a staff. It’s all about relationships with kids,” Ford said. “That’s the first thing I look for in a member of our staff and that applies to all sports here at Plano. We’d also love to have as much high-level experience and coaches who have been places where they’ve had a lot of success, as well as a strong knowledge of the X’s and O’s. You want to provide your student-athletes with great people.”
That includes three coordinators — offense, defense and special teams — that Ford shares longstanding relationships with. Clayton George joins the Wildcats as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Zack Smith takes the reins as defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and Tyler Wicke will coordinate special teams and coach wide receivers.
“It was really big to get guys who already know me and know what my expectations are involved in this process,” Ford said.
George brings a decorated background on the offensive side of the ball, most notably 10 years as the offensive coordinator at Southlake Carroll — during which he helped coach the Dragons to a pair of state championships. George also has head coaching stops at Tyler Lee, Haltom and Hillcrest.
“Coach George and I have known each other for over 20 years. We started our careers together and he has head coaching experience at three different places,” Ford said. “He traveled with us to North Texas when we made the jump with coach (Todd) Dodge. When we left there, we went back to Southlake and won another state championship. He has championship experience and has called it at the highest of levels. We’re very fortunate and lucky to have him.”
Smith joins Plano as its defensive coordinator, having coached under Ford at Round Rock Cedar Ridge and Lovejoy. Beforehand, Smith was the defensive coordinator at Denison and helped guide the Yellow Jackets to a state semifinal appearance in 2009.
“I hired coach Smith about 11 years ago when we were opening up Cedar Ridge,” Ford said. “He had tremendous success at Denison. Zack is ready to advance his career and branch out a little bit. I’ve been fortunate to have him around me the last 11 years. He coached at the collegiate ranks for a while as well and is really good at what he does. I expect him to be a head coach at some point.”
Wicke also coached under Ford at Cedar Ridge and Lovejoy, helming the Leopards’ special teams department the past three seasons.
“I hired Tyler eight years ago down in Round Rock. He’s a highly intelligent coach who’s green and growing,” Ford said. “He has a passion and takes pride in special teams. Some coaches just put that on the back burner, but he spends a lot of time with it — navigating trends and rule changes. He’ll also coach our wide receivers as well. He’ll stay busy.”
Ford added that he made it a priority to retain a few members from McCullough’s staff as well. Plano alum Carson Meger, who coached safeties last season, will also coach the Wildcats’ receivers, while Daniel Maddox stays on board as the team’s tight ends and offensive line coach — a title he held last year.
On the defensive side of the ball, Kevin May moves from coaching linebackers to defensive ends and Mark Chilivetis will continues to coach cornerbacks in addition to helping Wicke on special teams after coordinating the unit last season.
“As you go through the process, you’re looking for coaches who are a good fit, work great with kids and have some good experience behind them,” Ford said. “These coaches really handled the transition well and have been really helpful.”
Other hires by Ford include safeties coach Chip Garber, defensive tackles coach Charles Benson, outside linebackers coach Dillon O’Bryant, defensive assistant Bill Firth, offensive line coaches Ryan Eichner and Travis Williams, and running backs coach Dan Gonzalez.