Aledo head football coach Tim Buchanan said he is liking his new/old gig so far.

Chances are, the teams he guides his Bearcats against this year won’t be enjoying life so much.

Of course, that’s been the case for most of the last decade, given Aledo’s run of seven state championships from 2009 through last season. As head coach, Buchanan took Aledo to five of those state titles before moving into the athletic director position full-time in 2014 after being head coach and AD for 21 years. The school system went from 450 students to about 1,700 in his tenure, he told Texas Scorecard, increasing the demands on time.

Then, in January, the school district announced that Buchanan would return to the sidelines starting this season, with then-head coach Steve Wood – who won three titles, including the Bearcats’ 16-0 campaign last year and eighth overall state championship – taking over the AD job.

“I stepped back and went full time AD and realized being full-time AD isn’t nearly as much as being a football coach,” Buchanan said.

The coach said it’s been an easy transition back to coaching. Not much has changed from his previous tenure in terms of practice organization, and as AD he helped hire the coaches now on staff.

The players on the team now weren’t yet in high school when he stepped down, so there was familiarity to be gained there. But many football fans in Texas already know the team’s offensive stars as the Bearcats go for their fourth straight 5A Division II state title game appearance.

Senior Jase McClellan, whom Buchanan called one of the premier running backs in the nation and is on his way to Oklahoma, rushed for 2,073 yards and 47 touchdowns last season, posting an average of 7.7 yards per carry and 148.1 yards per game. ESPN has him as a five-star recruit and ranked No. 2 among class of 2020 running backs.

Another star returning to the Bearcats’ offensive backfield is senior quarterback Jake Bishop, who had 2,231 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air last season against two interceptions, and completed 70.4 percent of his passes.

The embarrassment of offensive riches for Aledo extends to the receiving corps, which includes junior JoJo Earle, who is coming off a season with 1,090 receiving yards and 16 touchdown receptions in 14 games. Earle is a four-star recruit for the class of 2021, according to ESPN, and is the No. 2 receiver nationally in his class.

The question mark on offense exists with the offensive line, where all five starters from last year’s team have departed, meaning a lot of experience and talent must be replaced.

“That’s going to be the challenge for us there on offense,” Buchanan said.

Buchanan said the Bearcats’ defense is coming along, but it also has a lot of graduated seniors to replace.

“Surprisingly so, our defense was pretty dang good in the spring at stopping our offense,” he said. “So they really made big strides in the spring, and I see them just getting better and better as the year goes on.”

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