When it comes to building facilities and a program, Ben Staggs learned both as a Marble Falls High School student.
The 1993 graduate announced he had resigned as the athletic director and head football and baseball coach at Perrin-Whitt High School, a Class 1A member, and accepted a job at nearby Peaster Independent School District where he’ll be an assistant coach and is bracing to split time between the high school and junior high.
At Perrin-Whitt, Staggs was responsible for field maintenance, a skill he got a taste of the summer of 1992 when he, his teammates and their families decided to create a field for the baseball team at Marble Falls High School. Fans know it today as Scearce Baseball Field.
Staggs isn’t a stranger to hard work and dedication to the sport. He played baseball throughout his four years at Marble Falls High School and was part of the class that won district titles in baseball, basketball and football during the 1992-93 academic year, a goal important to his classmates.
“I learned my work ethic there,” he said. “That group (made things) better in everything they did. Look at the district titles. That’s where you learn the work ethic. We built that baseball field my senior year cause we wanted to play on it and we had the opportunity to do all that. Putting in the work has made an impact on me.”
After graduating from Tarleton State University in 2000, Staggs began his career at Grandview High School where he “turned into a football guy” by learning every position and how to coach it for the next two years. From there, he headed to Giddings to coach football and baseball for a year then took a year off.
In 2004, he took a job to be an assistant football, baseball and softball coach at Perrin-Whitt High School where he spent the last 18 years. For 16 of them, he served as the head softball coach. The last two years, he was the head baseball coach. About five years ago, he became the head football coach and engineered a switch from 11-man football to six-man football. As a result, Perrin is a Class 1A member. School district officials turned in a snapshot number of 96 in October 2021.
“I like the small school atmosphere,” Staggs said. “I think the education is better because you have more one-on-one with the kids. When I was teaching, I had less than 15 students. This year’s graduating class had less than 20. This tight-knit community appealed to me.”
He noted community members and school district leaders talked about switching to six-man football for a number of years before doing it. Staggs himself wasn’t on board until Perrin played Muenster.
“They had 75 players, and we had 13,” Staggs said. “The time had come that we needed to do this. Our numbers were low enough. And our superintendent was a six-man guy. The community was split. I’d only seen one six-man game.”
The move not only helped the football program but all extracurricular activities, Staggs said, because it allowed everyone to compete in Class 1A. That’s important considering male students outnumber the females at about 3 to 1.
“Baseball was struggling at times and our volleyball and girls basketball programs had a hard time competing in 2A,” he said. “We could have stayed in 11-man football and kept everything else in 1A. But we decided we might as well make the leap. Going six-man saved my career.”
While Staggs is a big believer in six-man football, his heart remains on the diamond, especially the softball diamond.
“When I got there, they were barely a .500 team,” he said. “Before I left, we’d won three district titles in a row with bi-district and area championships. We were in the playoffs 11 of (my first) 12 years. I’d gotten my 300th win when I was there.”
He switched to baseball because that’s what his students and staff members needed. He realized it was easier for him to teach coaches how to coach softball as opposed to teaching them how to coach baseball.
Because of the size of the school district, Staggs handled much of the field maintenance personally. He watered, mowed, weed-eated and other tasks that make it the envy of other school districts.
“I take pride in keeping it in top-top shape,” he said.
Going to Peaster means returning to 11-man football and the softball diamond and still handling the field maintenance. But he and his wife, Jennifer (the couple will celebrate 20 years of marriage July 6), won’t be relocating since Peaster is one mile farther from their home when compared to driving to Perrin. Daughters Jaycee and Kamryn have graduated and son Ryland will be a junior. He will transfer to Peaster.
“It’s much better you do (the field maintenance) yourself,” the elder Staggs said. “I’m at the end of my career. I’m here to coach. I want to get back to coaching.”
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