By Mike Keeney
Lionell Crawford is living a dream, and enjoying every minute of it!
Crawford, a 1988 graduate of Aldine High School and the football team’s star quarterback under the tutelage of legendary head coach Bill Smith, returned to his alma mater in February when he was named the school’s head football coach.
Although he and his new staff were a bit behind in their 19-5A rivals in terms of implementing their offseason program, they knew they had enough talent on hand to make a run at the playoffs once the 2009 season rolled around in August, and right they were.
The Mustangs closed the season with a kick and qualified for the playoffs. They defeated Westside 28-19 in bi-district play before falling to Alief Taylor, 38-35, in a thrilling second-round game.
By leading the Mustangs to a playoff win and a 7-5 season, Crawford was named the Northeast News’ Coach of the Year for the 2009 season.
The Aldine job is Crawford’s second head coaching stint. Prior to landing at the helm of the Mustangs’ program, Crawford was the head coach at Smiley High School and then North Forest High (Smiley and Forest Brook combined and the school was named North Forest High in 2008), where he led the Bulldogs to a 6-4 season in 2008 and a playoff berth.
Before becoming a coach, Crawford was a strong football player himself. After graduating from Aldine, Crawford earned a football scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, where he played quarter back and wide receiver for Barry Alvarez. After two years with the Green Bay Packers, Crawford entered the private sector. He began his coaching and teaching career in 2000.
Like Smith before him, Crawford hopes to spend many, many years as the Mustangs’ head coach.
“I would love to lay a foundation and have some things put in place to where my name can be mentioned with Coach Smith’s. Now that would be quite a career.”
Some would say Lionell Crawford is off to a good start in reaching that goal.
(For the full version of this story, please see print edition.)
By Mike Keeney