HOUSTON - Sterling Doty is heading back to where it all started.
Doty, a member of the 1998 and 1999 Stephenville state championship football teams, has accepted the head coaching job of Stephenville High School after spending the last five years at Magnolia.
"That was a big drive, we're really excited about that opportunity to go back home where it all started," Doty said. "The opportunity to play under some great coaches and great mentors to me, it's got a special place in my heart. So, the opportunity to get back there and be a Yellow Jacket again is something I couldn't pass up."
Doty just finished his fifth season leading Magnolia. The former University of Houston athlete led the Bulldogs to a 33-21 record in his time. The most successful run came in years two and three when Magnolia went 10-2 in both seasons.
"It's meant everything, I want to thank the school board, district administration, everybody at Magnolia High School," Doty said. "It's just been phenomenal to me and my family. The whole community. It's been a great experience. I was hired when I was a week away from turning 31. For Dr. Stephens to take a chance on a young kid, I couldn't be more blessed.
"It's been a great ride in Magnolia and we're going to miss it."
The Bulldogs captured one district championship and made the playoffs for three-straight seasons.
Prior to Doty arriving in 2014, Magnolia hadn't been in the playoffs since 2008 and hadn't made back-to-back playoff appearances since 2001-2002.
Looking at Magnolia, it does return seven starters on offense and defense heading into the 2019 season and Doty said it was going take a job like this to pull him away.
"I think it's safe to say this would have been the only job I would have left for," Doty said. "That's what made it so hard today getting in there and telling the kids. We get in there and we develop relationships with them and we're with them all the time. I'm with them more than my kids a lot of times. Going through that process was tough."
Stephenville is coming off a 7-4 season in 2018 but is only a year removed from making the state semifinals. In 2017, Stephenville went 12-3 and fell to Kennedale in the state semifinals.
"I see a tradition-rich program that has high expectations," Doty said. "It's got a community that will support you and rally around your group. The history speaks for itself. They've won five state championships, you start naming Art Briles, Phil Montgomery, Chad Morris, Mike Copeland, former head coaches that have been there and gone on to big-time success. I just can't say enough where that program's been.
"Once we start, my opportunity to go back there and coach, everything is moving forward. It's not about the past and where we've been but it's about where we're going."
Sterling (a 2001 graduate of Stephenville High School) and his wife Mandie (a 2003 graduate of Stephenville High School) both have family, including their parents that live in Stephenville.