Sam Harrell was born in Seminole, Texas to Jake and Emily Harrell. His father was a coach for the Indians at that time and later became the head football coach. The family lived there until Sam was in junior high when they moved to Snyder for two years. Later they moved to Brownwood where Sam played quarterback for Coach Gordon Wood. In his senior year the Lions made it to the state semi-finals where the game ended in a tie and Brownwood lost on first downs. He graduated from Brownwood High School in 1975 as valedictorian of his class. In 1979 he graduated Summa Cum Laude from Abilene Christian University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Education. After graduating he married Kathy Stanton in June of 1979.
They moved to the Panhandle where Coach Harrell began his coaching career under Greg Sherwood at Plainview High School. In 1982 they moved back to Brownwood where Sam coached with Coach Wood and his legendary staff for four years and then with Coach Randy Allen for four more years. During their eight years in Brownwood, Sam and Kathy had their three sons, Zac, Graham and Clark.
In 1990 Sam became the head coach at Reagan County High School. From 1991 – 1993 the Owls were 31 – 4 and were district and Bi-district champions for three consecutive years. His regular season record during those 3 years was 29 – 1. Coach Harrell was selected West Texas Coach of the Year in 1991 and District Coach of the Year in 1991, 1992, and 1993.
In 1994 Sam became the head coach at Ennis High School. During his time at Ennis, the Lions had many successful seasons. They went to the playoffs eleven consecutive years and had nine straight seasons of 10 wins or more. Through those nine years, the Lions were 111 – 15, with three 4A State Championships (2000, 2001, 2004), and all three of his sons were on one of those state teams. The Lions had two other State Semifinalist appearances (1999 & 2003).
In 2005 Coach Harrell was diagnosed with MS and ultimately had to retire from coaching in 2010. But he has shown remarkable improvement and has again returned to coaching as the quarterbacks coach at Brownwood High School.
While at Ennis, Coach Harrell was selected District Coach of the Year nine different times. He was chosen Reebok AAAA Coach of the Year in 1999 and Texas Sportswriter’s AAAA Coach of the Year in 2000 and again in 2001. Coach Harrell was also selected to coach in the THSCA All-Star game in 2002. He was inducted into the Gordon Wood Hall of Champions at Brownwood in 2002. He served on the THSCA Board of Directors from 2007 to 2009 and in 2010 was President of the THSCA. He was inducted into the THSCA Hall of Honor in 2012.
Sam and his wife, Kathy, have been married 34 years and have the three sons, three daughters-in-law, and two grandkids : Zac (Texas HS coach) & Stephanie and Gunner, Graham (Green Bay Packers) & Brittney, and Clark (Abilene) & Jordan and Charlee.
2013 Tom Landry Award