CALALLEN — Phil Danaher is a humble man. All the hype and hoopla surrounding the Texas high school record for most career wins is something he certainly never sought.
All of the media waiting for him at Thursday night’s game and his date with history; all of the cameras and all the reporters from everywhere — including Texas Monthly — none of that is him.
However, he of course was aware of the magnitude of what a Calallen win Thursday night would mean. That’s why before the game, he asked his players that if they were to beat the Flour Bluff Hornets and if there was to be a customary water can bath, to make sure and leave the ice out.
That water can bath? Well, it finally came Thursday night. It was a light moment in what was otherwise a business-as-usually night for the Wildcats. They handled the Hornets with relative ease to win the District 30-5A championship and collect Danaher’s 427th victory. With the win, Danaher surpassed coaching legend G.A. Moore, who amassed 426 wins in 44 seasons.
Danaher’s record as a head coach is the product of 43 years of work. His last 33 seasons have been at Calallen, where he’s credited with creating one of the premier high school football programs in the state.
“This feels great,” Danaher said afterwards. “This week’s over with — finally. All the hype and everything… it turned out to be just what it was built up to be.”
There was a sell-out crowd on hand for the big game, and it included a long list of friends, former players and coaches on hand to witness history. One of those at the game was Carl Padilla, the creator of the Padilla Poll which ranks every high school team in Texas, and one of the foremost authorities in Texas high school football.
“He’s a legend who has done things the right way for many years is now No. 1 in wins in Texas, where the best football is played in the best state in the best nation,” Padilla said. “… He would tell you first that what he is credited with belongs just as much to all his players and coaches.”
Danaher’s head coaching career began in 1974 at Dilley High School. In his first season with the Wolves, the program won its first district championship in more than 10 years. He had a 25-12-2 record in four seasons at Dilley.
He spent six seasons at Hamshire-Fannett and was 43-22.
"I want to thank all of the kids who played football for me, from Dilley to Hamshire to here," Danaher said. "Most of those wins were here in Calallen and that's special."