by JASON GORDON
The last time a new head coach walked the sidelines at Hays High School the average price of a new home was just under $15,000 per year, the first Big Mac was sold, and the average price for a gallon of gas was 34 cents.
The year was 1968, when Bob Shelton was hired to guide the Rebel football team.
Shelton retired last fall, after a state record 43 years at the same school, paving the way for the Blake Feldt era.
That new era will officially begin Friday night, when Feldt guides the Rebs onto the field at the stadium named for his predecessor.
Hays will have only its second-ever head coach roaming the sidelines when it takes on Akins.
“It will be strange not seeing Coach Shelton down there,” said Mark Jones, Hays County Commissioner, Precinct 2. “It will be strange not visiting with Bob before the game, but I’m also excited about a fresh approach. The main thing is I’ll still hope we win every game just like I have for the last 40-plus years.”
Jones, who has missed just five Hays games in the history of the school, added he doesn’t think the school will see a drop in support. Shelton Stadium is widely known as one of the best venues to watch a high school football game in Central Texas.
“I think Kyle and Buda will continue to support the Rebels,” Jones said. “I think the kids are working hard and the crowd will be excited to see the team Coach Feldt puts on the field.”
Former Hays CISD school board president and longtime local resident Lamont Ramage agrees.
“Change is inevitable,” Ramage said. “Bob Shelton is an icon around here and always will be, but that doesn’t take anything away from Coach Feldt and what he’s trying to build. I think he’s a very capable coach and I think it will be a very exciting season.”
Feldt said he expects the Rebels will have the same support they did under Coach Shelton.
“We’re doing everything we can to have the best product possible on the football field every Friday night,” Feldt said. “We’re excited about the opportunity, excited about our team and we’re ready to get things started.”
Feldt added that he never quite knows what to expect on opening night.
“You never know exactly what you’re going to get when you turn those bright lights on Friday night,” he said. “I’ve had teams that looked real good in the scrimmages and then didn’t look good in the opener, and I’ve had teams that looked good in the scrimmages and great in the first game. I think we’ve prepared the kids as well as we can and I think they’ll be focused and ready to go.”
Kickoff Friday is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.