Cedar Hill Plays for 5th State Championship This Weekend
(CEDAR HILL, TEXAS) It’s a quiet morning in Whitney, Texas – a community so small that the entire population could fit into Longhorn Stadium.
Retired football coach Robert Woods calls Whitney – 64 miles southwest of Cedar Hill – home. He’ll go for relaxing walks, play a round of golf or admire the views of scenic Lake Whitney.
Although he’s been retired for approximately 15 years, the 69-year-old Woods sometimes reflects upon the success that two assistants that he hired at Cedar Hill have achieved with the Longhorn Football Program.
This is one of those weeks where it crossed his mind.
Cedar Hill (12-1) is playing for its fifth state championship – all within the past 15 years at 1 p.m. Saturday vs. Katy (13-1) at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, Woods has largely avoided attending football games, but he’s considering making an exception this weekend and traveling to Arlington for the UIL Class 6A Division II Championship.
First Black Head Football Coach at Cedar Hill High
Woods is a Hall of Fame High School Football Coach, but his accomplishments are significant for several reasons. In 1997, he became the first Black head football coach at Cedar Hill High School.
In 1990, he coached Wilmer-Hutchins High School to the Class 4A State Championship, and current Cedar Hill head football coach Carlos Lynn was an offensive/defensive lineman on that team.
Woods is the most recent Black head football coach in Dallas-Fort Worth to win a state football championship.
Coach Lynn would be the first Black head football coach, from a Dallas-Fort Worth school, to win a State Championship.
“In history and with everything going on in our world, it would be huge,” Lynn said. “In the grand scheme of things, it would be pretty special. To be uttered in the same breath as Coach Woods would be a great accomplishment.”
Woods said there has been progress, with regards to diversity, even though it isn’t happening as quickly as it should.
According to a Dallas Morning News article, there were approximately 50 Black head football coaches in Texas in the early 2000s, and that number has tripled.
“There is progress and we’re moving in the right direction, but we’re never going to move as fast as people think it ought to move,” said Woods, who mentioned that Duncanville head football coach Reginald Samples led the Panthers to the State Championship Game in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
COACH LYNN’S COACHING ROOTS
Lynn was a sophomore at Wilmer-Hutchins in the fall of 1988 when Woods became the Eagles’ head coach. Woods arrived at W-H from Plano High School where he was an assistant coach for three state championship teams and one state runner-up squad between 1974-1987.
The Eagles went 13-8-1 during the 1988 and 1989 seasons, respectively, and lost to Dallas Roosevelt in the 1990 season opener before winning 14 consecutive games en route to the state title.
“Carlos was really a great player,” Woods said. “He was the leader on our team in 1990, which had 30 seniors. He was the glue that held that team together. You could tell he’d be a success in whatever he did.”
Woods remembered that Lynn was instrumental in organizing a team picnic prior to the 1990 season that was instrumental in building team chemistry.
“That brought our team together,” Woods said. “We really bonded, and it set us up going into that 1990 season.”
After graduation, Lynn accepted a scholarship to East Central University in Oklahoma where he was a key player on an NAIA National Championship in 1993.
In 1994, Woods accepted the head coaching position at Crowley, in Tarrant County, after going 44-22-2 at Wilmer-Hutchins.
One season later, Woods hired a 25-year-old Crowley graduate named Joey McGuire to coach the defensive line.
When Woods accepted the Cedar Hill head coaching position in 1997, he hired McGuire to coach the Longhorns’ secondary.
McGuire, who’s now the associate head coach at Baylor University. went on to follow Woods as head coach in 2003 and lead Cedar Hill to three state championships.
Meanwhile in 1995 – 16 miles away – Lynn had returned to his alma mater to teach and coach football at Wilmer-Hutchins.
Woods needed a defensive line coach in 1998, and Lynn, then 25 years old, applied and was hired.
“It was a great opportunity to learn the game from a great coach,” Lynn said.
By 2000, the Longhorns made a rare playoff appearance with a 5-5 record. This was a major accomplishment at that time in the program’s history.
The Birth of Longhorn Stadium
It was during Woods’ time as head coach that the current Longhorn Stadium was built. Cedar Hill competed in a 5A District (largest classification in Texas, at the time) and was significantly smaller than many of its opponents from Arlington ISD, putting the Longhorns at a competitive disadvantage.
Woods said he was relieved of his duties after a 2-8 season in 2002.
Lynn, who was promoted to defensive coordinator and was on the 2006 State Championship Staff, said there is no doubt that Woods laid the foundation for the Longhorns’ tradition of success.
“Discipline and structure is the foundation of what we do and what we’ve always done,” Lynn said. “Cedar Hill owes a lot to Coach Woods. I learned a lot from him. I can still call him anytime. He’s a great mentor and friend.”
Woods could take credit for coaching Lynn from 1988-1990 and hiring him in 1998, but he emphasizes that Lynn has been an outstanding leader for Cedar Hill
“I can’t take any credit for anything he’s done,” Woods said. “It’s all been him. He’s a hard worker and was a good assistant coach. He was willing to put in the time. Him becoming a successful head coach was not a big surprise for me.”