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Marble Falls OC, powerlifting coach Draper becomes athletic director and football head coach at Florence

CAPTION: Robert Draper (front row, sitting wearing the purple shirt) is headed to Florence to be the athletic director and football head coach. File photo

Marble Falls High School offensive coordinator and powerlifting head coach Robert Draper is the new athletic director and football head coach at Florence HIgh School.

Draper, who has been on Marble Falls athletic director Brian Herman’s staff since 2020, said he received the call from Florence officials the afternoon of May 24 offering him the job. By 6:30 a.m. May 25, he was on the road to Florence to meet his athletes — boys and girl — administrators, other staff members and coaches.

He pointed out he’s applied for this job in the past.

“This is the third time,” he said. “I lost to (former Lampasas head coach) Joey McQueen and (former Marble Falls coach) Zane Bode. I’m from Copperas Cove. I’ve always kept tabs on Florence. I believe I can make them successful. I love the area, it’s close to home, I have friends and family in the area. I know the superintendent (Rick Kirkpatrick) really well.”

Draper was the head coach at Edna for one year before joining Herman’s staff. He had applied at a handful of other head coaching jobs before he received the call from Florence.

“I’ve been wanting to become a head coach again before I retire,” he said.

He indicated leaving Marble Falls was bittersweet. The Drapers have made many friends and have been apart of some incredible memories.

In 2020 and 2021, Draper, who coaches the offensive line, was part of a football program that won two bi-district championships, an area title and reached the Class 5A Division II regional quarterfinals. Those were the best back-to-back season finishes since the David Denney era of the 1990s.

As the girls head powerlifitng coach, Draper guided the Lady Mustangs to fourth place at the Class 4A Region II Division I meet this season. Kenadi Dalton, Chloe Humphries and Sophia Trudeau won their weight classes to advance to the Class 4A state meet.

Humphries finished seventh in her weight class and Dalton was 18th. Two Lady Mustangs will graduate in 2023.

“We’re going to miss a lot of people,” Draper said. “There are great people I work with. The administration was great to me and my family. I’m going to miss the (powerlifting) girls. I’m going to miss working with the kids.”

Last season the Marble Falls football team finished 2-8. Draper believes this year’s offensive line, after earning one year of valuable varsity experience, will be better in 2023.

“I’m torn about leaving,” he said. “I think we’ll take a step forward. They’ve been in the weight room. They’re hungry. They want to be successful again. They’re excited about football. They’re ready to go. Seeing those guys develop, I’m going to miss them. They’re excited. We’re starting to build.”

In the coaching industry, Draper is considered the authority on Slot-T offensive lines. He receives calls from other Stot-T coaches around the state — especially offensive line coaches — on scheme, personnel, how to build the line, and the basics of the scheme.

“Because of what we do offensively, there’s a big emphasis on kids who can go hard upfront,” he said. “They need to be good, decent blockers. In the Slot-T, it’s hard to mask that. You have to be able to attack in all directions. You have to teach that mindset.”

When he met his Florence players, he asked them to commit to three traits.

“Positive attitude, total effort and you believe in family,” he said. “I truly believe in that. It’s an unselfish offense. You can’t be selfish in this offense and be successful. The kids seemed excited today. I’m anxious to see them work this summer.”

Draper’s departure means the Mustangs will have a new offensive coordinator for the third consecutive year.

“It’s a little tough to leave,” Draper said. “It’s a great opportunity for me.”

Draper is joining a new group of administrators at Florence ISD. Kirkpatrick started as the Florence superintendent in early March. Florence high school and middle school also hired new principals.

Draper said Drew Bridges, who served as the athletic director and head football coach, went above and beyond in helping the transition.

“My hat’s off to Drew Bridges,” he said. “He and I visited all morning. He’s left me where I can be very successful. I’m excited about it.”

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