The new head football coach at Ennis High School is back in familiar territory and even though the season hasn't started yet, he's already winning a very important battle.
Sam Harrell, 62, won three state titles and led his team to 11 playoff appearances in 16 years as the head coach of the Lions. But his job and his life got put in jeopardy after he received some devastating news about his health. He was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease affecting the nervous system.
Suddenly his coaching career came grinding to a halt.
“Because of the MS I was so bad I couldn't walk on my own so I had to retire,” Harrell said. “If somebody would have asked me then, ‘Think you'll coach again?’ I'd have told them ‘You are crazy. I'm just hoping to walk again.’”
But the storied coach didn’t give up. Harrell was able to get experimental stem cell treatments in Panama.
After three of five stem cell shots, he noticed miraculous improvement.
“You get those fresh new ones running through your body and they get in there and correct things and that's what mine did,” Harrell said.
Harrell has coached football locally for the last several years, including a stint as offensive coordinator at Fort Worth Christian, winning a championship in 2015.
But coaching back at Ennis is a homecoming he could only dream of, and now he's ready to take the field. He’s set his sights on leading the Lions to another state championship.
“They've won five here now so they are kind of used to that,” Harrell said. “Those three were pretty fun so we'd like to shoot for that again.”
Ennis kicks off its season on Aug. 31 against Waxahachie High School, where one of Harrell’s sons is the offensive coordinator.