As a football coach, Reginald Samples has had lots of teams run over lots of opponents.
Now, both he and his Duncanville Panthers will be running over foes on a field that bears his name. The Duncanville ISD School Board voted recently to name the field at Panther Stadium in Samples’ honor.
“I’ve never had anything like this named in my honor. It means the world to me to have something named after me that will remain and something that my family can look upon and remember me by,” a flattered Samples said.
Not that folks wouldn’t already remember Samples well. He’s simply one of the best high school football coaches ever to roam a sideline – and not just in Texas. Samples has won coach of the year awards from the local level to across the state and even on the national level, most recently this past season when he guided the Panthers to a 15-0 record.
And he capped his fabulous career by leading the Duncanville Panthers to the Class 6A Division I state championship this past December. Making the accomplishment even sweeter is the victory came against Houston North Shore, a team that had stopped Samples and his Panthers in the finals three of the previous four years.
“It was very special because it was a culmination of a goal I set for my career and myself,” Samples said of the state title. “It was also very special after going through three defeats in a row to North Shore. It was kind of a thorn in my side.
“It made everything I’ve done in my career seem worthwhile.”
Samples was already a hugely successful coach before coming to Duncanville. He had long runs at Dallas Lincoln and Dallas Skyline. In 15 seasons at Lincoln, starting in 1990, he won 122 games and took the Tigers to the 4A Division II state final in 2004. In a decade at Skyline, his teams won 110 games with nine district titles and trips to the state semifinals in 2011 and 2014.
Overall, his record is 326-287-1 and he is approaching 100 wins at his third school.
In 2022 Samples was elected to the Dallas ISD Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Coming to Duncanville was the extension of my career that I needed. I felt like I was at a logjam, at a crossroads in my career,” Samples said. “I’ve been able to do some things in my career that were goals of mine that I really needed resources and support to get done.”
FRUIT BEFORE GAMES
Just like the other honors in his career, this one won’t change Samples. He’s still going to coach the same, treat folks as best he can, and continue to eat fruit before every game.
“It’s always been a healthy sign of health for me in my life,” he said. “I’ve always tried to make fruit a part of my diet.
“Normally, the reason I eat it before every game is my nutrition is all messed up during the day, so I try to eat that last piece of fruit and make it through the game and eat after the game is over.”
Whether it’s food or a victory, Samples has certainly “enjoyed the fruits of his labor” many times in his career.
DEALING WITH RANKINGS
Samples has the Panthers not only atop the state rankings on a regular basis, but also consistently among the nation’s top 10 high school football teams. But don’t tell him that because, ironically, he’s too busy trying to keep his team good enough to earn such respect.
“Honestly, I try not to think about that. Those things will get your mind off what’s really important, which is trying to get better every day,” he said. “I really appreciate the notoriety, but our goal is to repeat as state champions and the only way we can do that is to stay focused.”
HOW STAY SUCCESSFUL
If you ask Samples how his teams are regularly among the very best to be found anywhere, he’ll answer simply that it’s bunch of reasons rolled together. He’ll credit the coachable kids, their parents and the entire Duncanville School District, along with just being one lucky guy.
“The entire Duncanville family allows me to be successful,” he said. “I’m just so blessed to be a part of it.”
Something says the community feels equally blessed – the field he coaches on regularly.