One of the most successful coaching careers in Texas high school football is coming to a close.
Longtime Boyd football coach and athletic director J.G. Cartwright announced Monday after meeting with players that he is retiring in June after 38 years at the school. He spent the past 35 years as the Yellowjackets’ head coach, compiling a record of 274-122-5 and winning state titles in 1983 and 2004.
“I went into this past season thinking it was my last season,” Cartwright said Monday. “Simply because the timing was right – 35 years as head coach and 38 overall. I went back and forth on this a lot. It was a tough decision to make, but I’d have to make the same decision next year and the next. I just decided it might be good to take a step back and see if there was something else I’d like to do.”
Cartwright ranks 15th in career wins among Texas high school coaches, averaging more than eight victories per season. His teams won 12 district titles and qualified for the playoffs 23 times, including the past nine seasons. His Yellowjackets were 9-3 last fall, winning a bi-district title.
“I’m happy with the way my career turned out,” he said.
“Winning was important, but winning the right way and playing with class. Our motto was play hard, play fast and play with class. We came up with that.”
His fellow Wise County coaches commended the way his team played.
“There’s so many things amazing to his tenure at Boyd,” said Bridgeport coach Danny Henson. “But the character with all his teams stood out. His kids played hard and were always well-coached.”
The Godley native and North Texas alumnus spent his entire career at Boyd, starting as an assistant coach in 1974. Within three years, he became head coach, a job he’s held for more than three decades.
“When I got into coaching, I thought coaches moved every two years,” Cartwright said. “I expected to be here a couple of years and be gone. It never happened. I never had a good enough reason to leave or I didn’t make the wrong person mad at the wrong time. But I really like it. I think it’s a real nice community to live in.”
His long tenure and the success of his program made Cartwright a driving force in Boyd.
“He’s a big part of what’s happened here the last 30 years,” said longtime Boyd booster Don Patterson. “I hate to see him go.”
Boyd Superintendent John Emshoff said: “Coach Cartwright has been the face of Boyd athletics for nearly four decades. There is no way to perfectly describe what he’s meant to the school and the community. It’s immeasurable what he’s meant to the young men that have played for him.
“Other schools have head coaches that come and go. Cartwright could have left. He chose to dedicate himself to Boyd,” said Emshoff. “That alone makes him very special.”
During his time, he coached generations of players, including sons of former players. One of his players, Brandon Hopkins, has been one of his assistants for 15 years.
“I’ve spent my whole career playing under him and coaching with him,” Hopkins said. “Not everyone gets to do that. He’s been here 38 years and 35 as head coach. Not just a school, but the whole town is used to having him around.”
Cartwright said he has no plans of leaving the community and will be a regular at Boyd games in the new Yellowjacket Stadium that opened in 2010.
“We plan to continue living where we do now,” he said. “I told the guys earlier that I wouldn’t be on the field with them, but I’ll be a little farther back in the stands supporting them.”
Boyd will now start the task of searching for Cartwright’s successor. The school has posted the opening and is accepting applications and resumes. Emshoff said the deadline for applicants is Jan. 27.
“No other deadlines have been set,” Emshoff said. “We hope to take what Coach Cartwright built here and continue to make it grow and get better.
“I’m expecting a lot of interest in the job. The athletic program will continue to have success because of the foundation he laid.”
TEXAS’ TOP COACHES
With his retirement, Boyd’s J.G. Cartwright closes one of the most successful careers in Texas high school football. He ranks 15th with his 273 wins. Here’s a list of the top 15 with their last or current school.
1. G.A. Moore, Aubrey# … 426
2. Gordon Wood, Brownwood … 395
3. Phil Danaher, CC Calallen# … 380
4. Dennis Alexander, Harleton# … 322
5. Jim Streety, SA Madison# … 321
6. Curtis Barbay, Newton … 315
7. Charlie Johnson, Childress … 313
8. Bob Shelton, Hays Consolidated … 313
9. Eddy Peach, Arlington Lamar … 309
10. Randy Allen, Highland Park# … 305
11. Ray Akins, Gregory-Portland … 300
12. Tommy Watkins, Iowa Park … 293
13. Dan Ray Hooks, West Orange-Stark … 283
14. Bob McQueen, Temple … 276
15. J.G. Cartwright, Boyd … 274
# current coach
Source: Texas Football