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Coach Ponder leaving Iowa Park for Bells

Football in Iowa Park is undergoing a big change this week as IPHS athletic director and head football coach Scott Ponder accepted the head football coaching position at Bells, a Class 2A school located just east of Sherman.

In four years at Iowa Park, Ponder compiled a 14-27 record with the Hawks, including an 8-3 inaugural season in 2010 and a trip to the playoffs.

The next two years ended with identical 1-9 records, and the Hawks went 4-6 in 2013, failing to make the playoffs for a third straight year.

It wasn’t the same measure of success Ponder experienced in terms of wins with his two prior head coaching jobs, including a state championship at Petrolia, and a consistent winning record at Rider. But Ponder did have success in building the district’s program from the junior high level up through the high school ranks, and worked to help pass a multi-million dollar bond package that included the complete renovation of Hawk Stadium and the athletic complex.

“Coaching is a lot about timing and fits, and we were looking for a place that is a better fit for the Ponders,” he said Monday. “I’ve enjoyed the time in Iowa Park. We had some success growing a strong program. The bond was passed while we were there. There is no doubt the Hawks will win more games next year, and part of that is what we have managed to accomplish. We have made some good strides as a program.

“I look forward to hearing good things from Iowa Park,” he added.

Iowa Park CISD Superintendent Steve Moody said this about Ponder’s departure. “We are very appreciative of the hard work and dedication Coach Scott Ponder exhibited in his years with the Hawks. Coach Ponder brought a high level of enthusiasm and energy to his program. He did a great job working with the student athletes to develop their skills and improve the football program. He worked to establish a solid foundation for Hawk football from the junior high to the high school.

“Coach Ponder was great to work with and we appreciated his passion for coaching football and working with kids,” added Moody. “Coach Ponder and his family will be missed in our schools and community and we wish him the best as he continues his coaching career in Bells, Texas.”

On Monday, the Bells ISD board of trustees made Ponder’s hiring official. He was one of four finalists among over 70 applicants.

Superintendent Joe Moore told the Leader Tuesday “Bells ISD and I are very excited about securing Coach Ponder as our boys coordinator/head football coach.

“Scott’s enthusiasm, experience, and work ethic combined with his passion for coaching has resulted in a great deal of success for his past programs, and we look forward to him bringing those personal assets to BISD students. He has accompliished what every program in the state of Texas wants ... a state championship. The students, parents, and community are anxious to offer our support and welcome Coach Ponder and his family to our district.”

Ponder noted the Bells superintendent and principals were very upbeat and positive about the opportunity for him to build their program. “They are going to give us the tools to help make us successful,” the coach said.

Bells will also be welcoming the other Ponder family members, including son Derrick, who will be going into his junior year with two years under his belt as a starting varsity quarterback.

The Bells Panthers went 1-9 in the 2013 season, and 0-5 in District 2-2A which includes S&S Consolidated, Gunter, Leonard, Whitewright, and Tom Bean.
With the upcoming UIL realignment, Bells will be dropping down one classification to 1A for the 2014 season.

The Iowa Park CISD board of trustees formally accepted Ponder’s resignation during Tuesday night’s regular board meeting.

According to Moody, the school will post the job opening on the school’s website and THSCA (Texas High School Coaches Association) website.

Applications will be accepted for the next three to four weeks, with interviews held in February and, hopefully, a new athletic director in place prior to Spring Break in March.