By Mike Keeney, Contributing Writer
Nimitz High School head football coach Richard Slater and his staff knew they had a young team on their hands when the 2021 season began. Nimitz suffered some early losses, but came alive in District 14-6A, where they won four games and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six years.
By rebounding in league play and leading his team to the playoffs, Slater was named the Northeast News’ Coach of the Year.
Slater arrived at Nimitz in 2015 after spending nine years on Gary Joseph’s staff at Katy High School, where he was part of a coaching staff that played in six state title games, and winning three state titles.
In his first year at Nimitz, Slater led the Cougars to the post season and six years later he did it again.
He’s excited about the future because he has a solid nucleus of players who will be back for the 2020 season, including running back Joseph Sanders, quarterback Brayden Whitehead and safety Cory Huff.
“We definitely can,” Slater said, when asked if next year’s team could make a return to the playoffs and improve on the four wins Nimitz had in 2021. “I believe we’ll be much better next year because we have a lot of kids back on offense and some key players returning on defense.”
Slater said he and his staff will use the offseason to get their players stronger and faster and he hopes to remind them that they are stronger as a team than they are as individuals.
“This year was a confidence booster and we’ll stress that during the offseason and spring training,” he said. “When we play together as a team, good things happen for us. I’m very optimistic going into next year.”
Slater has more than 30 years of experience as a coach and says he has no plans of slowing down. He said he loves coaching.
“No, I never get tired of it [coaching] because I like working with kids,” Slater said.
Slater said working for Joseph, perhaps the best high school coach in Texas, was a dream come true for a high school football coach. He said he learned so much from Joseph during his nine years at Katy.
“Those nine years were an excellent experience,” Slater said. “Gary was a great mentor. I think he’s the best coach at any level in Texas and I mean that. From his organizational skills to the way he coaches and teaches is just amazing. I learned how to run the 3-4 defense from Gary and how he runs a program.”
While he enjoyed his time in Katy, he’s very happy to be coaching in Aldine, where he said he appreciates all the support he receives from the Aldine ISD administration and the athletic department.
“There are so many good people in Aldine,” Slater said. “Dr. [Superintendent LaTonya M.] Goffney is such a strong proponent of athletics and I appreciate her support. Our athletic department does a great job of supporting all of us coaches and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for our program.”
It sounds like Slater wants to stick around for a good while, and that should be just fine with Nimitz High football fans.