Era head football coach Aaron Fortenberry is moving right down the road to Valley View.
After seven years at Era and three years as head coach, Fortenberry will now be an assistant head coach at Valley View as well as the middle school coordinator.
Fortenberry said after talking with his family, he felt it was time for a change.
“Era will always be my home,” Fortenberry said. “The toughest part was telling the kids I was leaving and looking into their eyes of kids I’ve coached the past seven years. It was tough. That was a big part of my family’s decision because my wife is a coach at NCTC [North Central Texas College] and we have family in the county. We needed to stay close.”
Fortenberry turned in his letter of resignation Monday, March 16, and from there, he had conversations with Valley View athletic director Alan Kassen and head coach Curtis King.
“It all happened pretty quick,” Fortenberry said. “In small towns, word travels fast and coach King approached me and told me they would love to have me at Valley View. That Friday I went in for an official interview and enjoyed it. And it was a right place, right time type of thing. I even looked at things outside of coaching, so I thought I would give this a shot.”
Fortenberry said it will be a new experience to be an assistant head coach.
“Not many places have it,” Fortenberry said. “It’s going to be something I learn as I go. Everything is happening pretty fast. Me and coach King have been meeting and I think those responsibilities will be figured out in the next few weeks. I think coach King is a great coach and has done a great job at Valley View. I’m excited to learn the way he does things. I’m going to go in and get ready to work.”
As a former offensive lineman at the University of North Texas, Fortenberry will have a strong impact on both the offensive and defensive lines, according to King.
“He’s a great football guy and it will be great for our students in general,” King said. “He’s played at the Division I level and he’s been a head football coach. He brings that experience. He’s going to coach offensive and defensive line. It’s something we needed and he’s going improve our offense and defense.”
Fortenberry said he’s looking forward to focusing on the smaller techniques of the game.
“I think that’s one of the biggest parts I’m excited about is going away from doing everything and focusing on those techniques,” Fortenberry said. “I nerd out about that kind of stuff. It will be fun. My mentality is we’re going to be physical. We like to have some fun, get after it and be nasty up front.”
Fortenberry will also transition to the middle school coordinator role and he said he is looking forward to making an impact on the younger athletes.
“In small schools, most coaches coach middle school and high school,” Fortenberry said. “The junior high is the key part to getting those kids started on expectations and learning the systems. They’re the future of the program. The work you put in with those younger guys will help you out longer down the road. They’ll be more prepared as they get into high school.”
King, who also spent time as a middle school coordinator in his career at Argyle, knows how important getting the middle school sports programs going is.
“I think our middle school program has been lacking and there hasn’t been that much focus,” King said. “With us moving to Class 3A, we’ve got to improve on all our programs. We’re going to work together on that. We need to get to the kids early and get them ready for high school.”
Finishing out the rest of the year at Era, Fortenberry said he is looking forward to getting started at Valley View next year.
“I’m just excited to get to work and meet the kids,” Fortenberry said. “It will be one of those things where I get my plan more solidified as we close out the school year and the biggest thing will be to meet the kids and learn how they do things. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
The Eagles made a deep run to the playoffs last season as they made it past the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 27 years.
Valley View made it all the way to the state semifinal game and Fortenberry said he is excited to be a part of what is going on in the Valley View football program.
“It’s not really my job to come in and change things,” Fortenberry said. “I’m hoping to come in and learn and bring some things to the table. Hopefully we can build on the success from last year. They’ve had some success. They’ve got great community and administration support. It will be a good fit all around.”
Patrick Hayslip can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @PatrickHayslip