By Alex Byington
Killeen Daily Herald

Like a train coming through the station, 19 potential candidates made their case to be the next head football coach/athletic coordinator at Shoemaker High School during a nearly eight-hour screening session Wednesday at the Killeen Independent School District offices.

“I thought it went really well,” KISD Athletic Director Tom Rogers said. “You’re always concerned when you have a block of time for everybody, and you want to keep it fairly consistent so everybody gets that same block of time.

“You have to be pretty vigilant about that, and I thought we did a good job getting to everybody within that time frame.”

Sources said finalists were contacted late Wednesday evening, though Rogers would not confirm those reports. The finalists are scheduled to give presentations today in front of the hiring committee consisting of Rogers, Executive Director of Personnel Steve Cook, Shoemaker principal Ronald Gray, Assistant Athletic Director Kim Wilson, Director of Student Services Keith Harrison, and Superintendent Robert Muller.

“We’re meeting (today), but the final guy in this is Dr. Muller — he’s the guy that when there are positions at this level, he’s the one that has the last say,” Rogers said.

Interviews began Wednesday at around 8:30 a.m. at the KISD Offices and wrapped up about 4 p.m. The committee questioned the candidates for about 30 minutes each — focusing on their coaching philosophy, how they hope to execute that philosophy, and what are the measures to indicate a successful execution of said philosophy — in seeking to find the person that will replace Ken Gray, who retired June 9 after 11 years as the programs only head football coach.

The Grey Wolves are in the midst of a 22-game losing streak — the sixth-longest active streak in the state — that dates to 2008, the only year Shoemaker made the playoffs during Gray’s tenure.

Among those 19 that interviewed include several current head coaches such as Darren Duke of Dallas Conrad, Brad Eblen of Victoria East, Shawn Halloran of Houston North Forest, Paul Parsons of Crockett and Robert Wilcox of Kingsville King.

There were also several area coordinators brought in, including Belton assistant head coach Mark Irwin, Ellison offensive coordinator John Christian, and Pfugerville Connally offensive coordinator Channon Hall.

“I thought we had a good, wide mixture of candidates,” Rogers said.

Others interviewed were Robert August (Corsicana Assistant to the AD), Dan Burk (East Texas Baptist linebackers coach), Fred Camp (Dallas ISD Athletic Coordinator), Rene Maldonado (former San Antonio Antonian head coach) and Gary McElroy (Keller offensive assistant).

According to the job posting, which closed last Thursday, the position comes with a one-year contract (July 1-June 29, 2012) and pays between $71,500 and $85,500.

The process is being expedited because of a time crunch between the potential hiring date and July 8 — the last day a teacher/coach can take another position without approval from their previous school board. Also factoring in is KISD will be closed all next week due to the July 4 holiday.

“To get (the hire) finished up is a little bit of a crunch but I think we’re going to be OK,” Rogers said. “We’re going to do it as soon as possible, and take everything into consideration.”

Ultimately, it’ll be up to Muller to determine Shoemaker’s next football coach. And a decision could come as quickly as today.