Casey Walraven

After coaching together for 10 years in Kennedale and Grandview, Cleburne Head Coach Casey Walraven and Weatherford Head Coach Aubrey Sims will be on opposite sidelines as opponents Friday for the first time.

When the Cleburne Yellow Jackets welcome the Weatherford Kangaroos to town on Friday, it will be a sort of family reunion with several members of each team’s coaching staff.

Cleburne Head Coach Casey Walraven and Weatherford Head Coach Aubrey Sims both graduated from Alvarado High School, and then Walraven and Sims coached together in Kennedale and Grandview for a decade.

Walraven also spent time working with two of Sims’ assistant coaches in Weatherford — Tommy Webb and Rick Weaver. And Cleburne Offensive Coordinator Daniel Spencer played for Sims in Grandview.

After Walraven and Sims spent 10 years coaching together for the Wildcats and Zebras, Friday will be the first time the two are on opposite sidelines.

“I was a freshman and he was a senior at Alvarado,” Walraven said. “I wanted to be a quarterback. I watched Friday night football and Alvarado was good, and their quarterback I watched was Aubrey. I wanted to be that guy, and one day be better than that guy. He was the guy that I watched.”

Not only did Walraven watch and learn from Sims the quarterback in high school, but Sims was also a mentor for Walraven as a young coach. 

After three years together at Kennedale, Sims was named head coach at Grandview and he took Walraven with him. The duo played a key role in turning around the fortunes of what was at the time a struggling Grandview football program. Together, they laid the groundwork for what became a back-to-back state championship program, with Walraven later being named head coach after Sims left for another head coaching job.

“When I got the job in Kennedale, he got hired on staff the same time I did,” Walraven said. “It was my first job and he had been at a couple places before, but I connected with him there. He believed in me and took me to Grandview and let me have a huge say in installing the offense. I’m fortunate for that that we got to experience lots of success together in Grandview. I’ve learned a lot from him as a coach and as an athletic director. It’s really cool to play against somebody like him and Tommy Webb and Rick Weaver, who I coached with at Grandview and are on the Weatherford staff with Aubrey. We all share a lot of similarities and we come from the same place really as far as coaching. It’s really cool to be able to share a night with them. We definitely want to win but after that I hope they win every other game.”

Sims said he noticed how studious of a coach Walraven was at an early age and that drive was one reason he wanted Walraven to join him in Grandview.

“I just think he’s a very good student of the game,” Sims said. “He was going down to Waco and visiting with the Baylor staff and constantly trying to make himself a better coach. That self drive is exactly what I needed going into a struggling program in Grandview and to get it turned around. He was one of the guys I had to have with me and he was a huge huge part of the turnaround of that program.”

Sims said while it will be a neat deal coaching against Walraven on Friday, he admitted he’s not really looking forward to it because that means one of them will be on the losing end.

“I don’t really like it,” Sims said. “I want him to be successful. I never want one of the guys I worked with and somebody I care about to lose a football game and I know he feels the same way. So from that aspect, I don’t like this game. We’ve known each other our whole lives.

“But I’m sure it will be fun for both of us. We both call our offense the same. We bounce ideas off each other. Just two years ago, the Grandview staff, Cleburne staff, Rio Vista staff, my staff and a few others, we all worked together and had our own little coaches clinic and talked fooball. It’s going to be good to see him and Daniel Spencer, who is an ex-player of mine. It’ll be a fun game.”

Kickoff between the Jackets and ‘Roos is set for 7 p.m. Friday from Yellow Jacket Stadium.

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