Renfro eager to start as new La Porte HFC
Anthony Renfro has never backed down from a challenge, and he doesn’t plan to start anytime soon.
The newly-hired La Porte head football coach, whose 2019 football schedule features Class 6A Division I state champion Galena Park North Shore and Class 6A Division II runner-up Beaumont West Brook, may experience baptism by fire, but he’s ready to wage war.
“When you get into coaching it’s always your No. 1 goal to become a head coach, and I can’t think of a better place than La Porte, Texas for that to happen,” Renfro said. “It’s a one-horse town, you have all the tradition here, and football is a big deal to the people of this community.
“On Friday nights, the people in La Porte shut down early and come to watch football. We just want to make sure we give them something to be proud of.”
Renfro, 38, brings energy and a string of success to the La Porte program.
A Sonora High School graduate, Renfro played four years at Hardin-Simmons University where he played on four straight conference champion teams.
Coaching stops at Northwest Oklahoma State and Aspermont High School preceded a three-year stint at Seguin with current Midland Lee head coach Clint Hartman.
“Then I came to here to open Clear Springs High School with coach Hartman, and then I followed him to San Antonio East Central for three years,” Renfro said.
Renfro, who was assistant head football coach and defensive coordinator at East Central, then returned to Clear Springs, where he has stabilized the past three years, serving as an assistant head coach with coordinating duties on a perennial playoff team and three-time defending District 24-6A championship squad.
Renfro hoped for his official start date at La Porte to be on Tuesday, Feb. 19.
“My first order of business is to get in there and start developing relationships with the kids,” he said. “That’s the biggest deal to me. The kids have got to know that you’re there for them, that you’re being honest with them and always shooting straight.
“It needs to get to the point where they can trust me and I can trust them.
“The second order of business is going to be the same thing with the coaches. I have to get to know those guys and figure out how the staff will best fit together. From there, we’ll learn about working hard, discipline, and all the things that are important toward winning.”
Renfro replaces Jeff Lareau, who retired after this past season. La Porte posted a 2-8 record in 2018 and was 5-6 in 2017.
Prior to that, Lareau guided the Bulldogs to winning seasons in eight of the previous nine years. Four times, Lareau-coached teams won double-digit games, including a 12-2 record in 2011 when the Bulldogs beat Katy, 9-7.
“Coach Lareau did a phenomenal job at La Porte,” Renfro said. “Anytime you win 100 football games in the state of Texas coaching 6A football, you’ve done a heck of a job.
“La Porte kids have always played really hard, and they’re tough over there.”
Renfro won’t fix what’s not broken, but will apply his own spin to his new gig.
“My way of doing things is probably going to be a little different than the way they’ve done them in the past,” he said. “I’m more of a one-side-of-the-ball guy. You play either offense or defense, and you practice that all the time so you get really good at what you’re doing.
“I’m not saying we won’t have some guys playing both ways…depending on our numbers, we might have to do that. It’s just tough to play that way at the 6A level and be successful.”
Scheme-wise, Renfro also has a definite plan.
“Offensively, we’re going to base out of the I,” he said. “I know we’ve got a good tight end, a good running back and a couple of good O-linemen. We’re going to try to run the football, slow the game down, let the clock run and then play great defense.
“We’re going to try to be really good on special teams. That’s a big deal to me. We have to be great in the return game and put pressure on people on the other side. With the teams we play, we’re going to have to find ways to do things like that to keep ourselves in the game.
“You’ve got the state champs and state runners-up in our district. We’re just going to put our heads down and go to work.”
Renfro is eager to get started on his work-in-progress.
“We’ll learn from the things we do really well and create a positive environment where the kids are having fun, but understanding what we have to do to be successful,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we want to give ourselves a chance to win the game. The coaching staff has to do a good job of putting our kids in the right position with a good game plan.
“Our goal is always going to be to get in the playoffs. Everybody will say it’s tough, and this and that, but I’m not ever going to tell the kids we can’t do anything. We’re going to dream big, and we’re going to shoot for the stars.”
An extremely tough schedule awaits Renfro, but it doesn’t discourage him in the least.
“If we don’t make it, that’s OK because in order to ever be successful, you’re going to fail at times,” he said. “My goal is to get in there and compete for a district championship, get in the playoffs, and then we’ll go from there.”