AGUA DULCE - Albert Byrom has a plan to return the Agua Dulce Longhorns football program back to its once glorious self, and it doesn't begin with "Xs" and "Os." Instead, the overhaul includes improving Agua Dulce High School's overall athletic program and that means resurrecting its baseball team and even beginning girls softball.
The first-year head coach said doing so will create well-rounded and more competitive athletes, which is a win-win situation for the entire athletic program.
"These kids, especially in a 1A district, compete against the same kids in every sport," he said. "I think the kids that are better competitors are the kids that compete year-round, regardless of the sport."
The Agua Dulce school board hired Byrom, a San Antonio native, earlier this month as the district's athletic director and head football coach.
Byrom replaces Kelly Black, who spent two seasons with the Longhorns and left for a position at Cuero High School.
He inherits a football program, once one of the winningest small schools in the state, which was 3-5 last year and 4-12 over the last two.
Byrom said job-one is reinstilling a winning attitude in the Longhorns.
"There's a lot of pride here. Agua Dulce High School has a history of winning and being successful," Byrom said. "I want to get things to the way they used to be. It's not going to happen overnight, but I think we'll get there soon."
Byrom's first step to turning around the football program is forgetting the past and concentrating on the future. His predessor was a well-liked coach in Agua Dulce. Black graduated from the school in 1985 and returned as its head coach and athletic director two years ago. He even played in the school's alumni football game in December.
"I think we need a quick healing process here," Byrom said. "I think the kids are a little torn up, but we need to move on. No doubt, there are some big shoes for me to fill."
Byrom comes to Agua Dulce from Eagle Pass Winn, where he was the offensive coordinator last season.
Winn was 3-7 for the season and 1-6 in District 29-5A in 2009.
Before last season, Byrom spent a season at Odem where he was the offensive coordinator. The Owls were 5-6 in 2008 and went one round into the postseason.
Byrom spent the 2006 and 2007 seasons at San Antonio Southside.
He is the Longhorns' third coach in the last four seasons.
Offensively, the Longhorns will take the field this season with a multiple offense which is based out of the I-formation. It won't be a straight I-formation offense. Instead, the Longhorns will utilize the spread offense, as well.
"I think you have to use the spread offense nowadays," he said. "You need to be able to spread the defense out if you can. Ultimately, we're going to do what we can. If we can line up and throw it, we'll throw it. If we're better at running the ball, then we'll do that."
Defensively, Agua Dulce will use a basic 4-3 defense.
As far as the overall Agua Dulce athletic program goes, Byrom said getting baseball back and starting softball for girls is key. The school played baseball before, but did not have a team this season.