Mark Schmid has not had much time to relax this summer. After all, he’s got a high school football season to prepare for now as he takes over as the interim head coach and campus athletic director at Oak Ridge.
Schmid accepted the position late last month after Dereck Rush left to become the assistant athletic director for Bryan ISD. With the departure being so late in the high school football coaching change cycle, the decision was made by Conroe ISD athletic director Danny Long and Oak Ridge principal AJ LiVecchi to offer the position to someone who would be up for the challenge.
Enter Schmid, who was the head coach at The Woodlands for 14 seasons before stepping down from the position in January of last year. He spent last fall as an assistant coach at Sam Houston State, where his son Eric plays quarterback.
Now he has a new endeavor, and the veteran coach is excited for the opportunity.
“Getting back and being able to work with high school kids and kids that are becoming young men, that’s what I love,” Schmid said. “So that’s what I’m the most excited about — being in that role again.
“It’s really exciting, and it’s hard to explain. The opportunity presented itself, and I believe that God put this in front of me, and I am excited about what’s going on. I have been welcomed with open arms by people that I’ve met so far at Oak Ridge and the kids I’ve had a chance to talk to. It’s just a great opportunity.”
Schmid said there is a possibility the Oak Ridge job turns into a permanent role, but for now, he’s focused on the task at hand — leading the War Eagles program this coming season. He and the rest of the coaches have plenty of work to do before practices officially gets underway in early August.
“Right now, our focus is on this football season,” Schmid said. “We really don’t have much time to think about anything, other than taking care of business right now. We’ve got a varsity football season to play, and for these seniors, it’s their last opportunity, most of them, to put on a football uniform. You want to make sure you give them everything you’ve got to end their high school career on a positive note. That’s my ultimate focus right now.”
Schmid is a graduate of McCullough High School, renamed The Woodlands High School in 1996, and was on the Highlanders’ coaching staff for 30 years. During his tenure as the head coach, he guided the program to a 125-41 overall record. That included a glistening 72-10 mark in district games, which helped his teams win nine league championships over his final 10 seasons.
His best season with The Woodlands came during the 2016 season when Eric was a senior. The Highlanders posted a 15-1 overall record that year and advanced to the Class 6A Division I title game where they lost to Lake Travis.
Oak Ridge has scrimmages against Alvin and Cypress Ranch before diving into the regular season on Friday, Aug. 30, on the road against Pearland Dawson. The War Eagles play their home opener the following week against Alief Taylor, the final non-district game on the schedule. The first District 15-6A contest will be played at Woodforest Bank Stadium against none other than The Woodlands,.
The Highlanders are 15-0 all-time against Oak Ridge, and Schmid’s teams were responsible for dealing out 14 of those losses to the War Eagles.
“It’s going to be kind of strange,” Schmid said. “All of those guys have worked with me for years, and I’ve got some dear friends over there, and I’ve spent so much time over there. It’s going to be surreal. I know they’re going to give me their best effort, and I wouldn’t expect anything less. I think they’re expecting that from me, too. It ought to be an exciting atmosphere, that’s for sure.”