Elysian Fields senior wide receiver Will Ford was practically born into football.
“When Will was born, his mother was about a month overdue,” Will’s dad and head football coach Scott Ford recalls. “We were at Los Fresnos on a Friday night and beat them 42-35 and Will was born around 6 a.m. that next morning. So he’s always been a football kid. When he was just born, we had a picture of him lying in a helmet. It was really cool.”
“I was always around it growing up,” Will said. “I grew up in the fieldhouse. I grew up on the field. My dad played football. So it was kind of a bond from the start. It’s pretty much all I knew as a kid. I remember when I played in Hidalgo and I scored my first touchdown. It was a kick return against Sugar Land.”
“He played Little Dribblers Basketball and I actually coached him for two or three years in Little League Baseball here but he chose to stick with football, that’s his thing,” Scott said about Will. “He likes hunting, he likes fishing and he likes riding four-wheelers. He’s much more multifaceted than I was and I’m proud of that. He’s very well rounded. I’m proud of the fact that he’s made himself a pretty good football player too.”
Being father and son as well as coach and player has it perks but it’s something the two don’t mix very often.
“For me, I never was that helicopter dad that made Will play sports,” Scott said. “He plays football because he chooses to. He knows that once we step between the lines, he’s a Yellow Jacket and I’m going to coach him the same way I coach the other Yellow Jackets, then once we walk off the lines and practice is over, we’re father and son and the real important stuff picks back up.”
“I feel like he treats everyone equally,” Will said. “Sometimes I’m like, ‘I don’t think he’d do that if he wasn’t my dad,’ but I think it’s all equal. If I have a question, I can go and ask him but honestly, we really don’t take it home. Like he said, once we leave the lines, it stays out there. If I have a question, I can always go ask him but it’s not like we go home and it’s just football, football, football.”
This year has been extra special for the Fords who have helped lead the Yellow Jackets to an 8-2 overall record and a 6-0 record against district opponents.
“Obviously with him going out with an undefeated district championship means a lot,” dad said.
“That’s always been a goal I’ve had – to win an undefeated district championship,” the son agreed.
Scott said Kelli Ford, his wife and Will’s mom who teaches special education at Elysian Fields, has been a great football mom and made the most of her son’s senior year.
“She used to coach tennis, junior high basketball and JV cheer but went to straight-classroom teacher to enjoy Will’s senior year.”
His senior year isn’t over yet. The Yellow Jackets are looking to punch their ticket to the second round with a bi-district victory over the Hemphill tonight.
“They’re 6-2,” the coach said. “They’ve got a really good football team. When you think of a four-seed, they don’t fit the bill. They’re super athletic. They’ve got all their skill kids back from last year. It’s going to be a challenge but we’re excited. Our kids are playing good football. They’ve shown up and played every Friday. We have not really had a week where I was disappointed with our effort and our preparedness. We feel like our advantage as we go in needs to be up front. We feel like we need to dominate in the trenches. They’ve got over 50 formations so we’re just going to have to line up and play solid, run to the ball and get as many kids there as possible because of their speed.”
“Just doing what we do and stopping their offense,” the senior receiver said when asked what the keys are to advancing to the second round. “I feel like if the offense, if we play how we’ve been playing, we should be good but they also run that tricky offense. We’ve got to stop it but our defense has been playing great all year, I think, personally.”
Tonight’s matchup is a repeat of last year’s bi-district matchup where the Jackets came out on top 74-50.
“We expect to play better defense this year,” Scott said. “You never know. Every game has its own identity and we certainly feel like we’re playing good offense right now. We’ll see how it plays out. The only thing that matters to us is finding a way to win and advance to the second round.”
“It never really hit me until my junior or senior year that this is it,” Will said. “It’s my last ride with my dad and I want to go out with everything that we planned on doing.”
Kickoff for tonight’s game is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Timpson’s Eakin Stadium.