Wayne Hutchinson doesn't even have to look to pinpoint where son Hagen stands in a 2012 state championship poster, or where Hagen and younger son Wes are in his 2013 state championship team photo.

 

Yet it's the stories about those two that make his stories coaching Stamford at the Class 2A level for six seasons come to life. Same with other guys named Isaiah Llewellyn, Jessie Ramos and certainly about another athlete named James Washington.

The fifth-year Monterey coach couldn't be happier about coaching the Plainsmen this season off another third-round appearance in the Class 5A Division I state playoffs. But his Stamford book keeps having chapters added to it, giving him even more of a reason to smile on the past and intensify his optimism about a future in Lubbock.

Washington got drafted in the second round last week by the Pittsburgh Steelers after winning the Biletnikoff Award last season. All the way from a 2A high school.

"I took a picture of the TV and sent him a text, but I know he was on a plane the next morning at 6 a.m.," said Hutchinson, who gained his first-ever NFL Draft pick. "He had to be at Pittsburgh at 9 a.m. the next morning, so I'm sure his world is spinning right now. He still stays in contact with some of our kids. He's a big hunter. In fact, three or four weeks ago, he hunted with my son and (Big Spring) coach (Mitch) McLemore's son. We're all into varmint hunting and he hunted with our kids. We kind of keep in touch through our kids."

That was about as much credit as Hutchinson would take in a 30-minute talk about Washington, who became an All-Conference performer at Oklahoma State.

But there's a bit of credit to place on Hutchinson, who upped the prestige of Stamford in Jones and Haskell Counties. He was hired by ghosts in essence because the entire administrative staff was heading out the door, and the football team itself posted a 2-28 record the past three seasons.

Hutchinson left as a two-time state champion with an appearance in a third state game just ahead of getting over the hump.

Possessing the talents of Washington helped. So did the new structure for a player that envisioned himself as a college basketball player from when Hutchinson met him in sixth grade to his younger high school days.

The latter only happened because Hutchinson's beloved alma mater of nearby Knox City, where he was serving as head coach, dropped down to six-man football after the 2005 season. He had no experience with the game and decided to pursue another 11-man position.

"Hutch calls and says, 'Hey, I've got this job at Stamford. We've got a spot if you want it, so come on,'" current Stamford receivers coach and offensive coordinator Jeremy West said. "But it was one of those deals where I looked at Wayne and said, 'Coach, are you sure?' It was one of those deals where they had run everyone off. No administration, no coaches. They had won two games in three years and I'm like, 'Wayne, are you sure?' 

"We did a lot of the same stuff everyone else does. We preached paying attention to detail and self discipline. We've done some stuff over the years about the first step, working hard and getting rewarded. The old coaching clichés. But the thing about Wayne Hutchinson is, first and foremost, that he's one of the best human beings in our business. That doesn't waver. It'll be there every day. The thing we've always done is do things right by the kids."

Stamford improved with four wins at the low end for three seasons before becoming a state power the back three.

Hutchinson also encouraged his players to do multiple sports and no season ever began before the prior ended. Football to basketball to baseball.

Washington, a described late bloomer, took it a step further by joining the tennis team.

Oklahoma State liked Washington after Hutchinson pushed him to attend a camp. But Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy, in particular, thought teaching him the footwork was going to be an issue until the Stamford staff argued he had great feet.

He was a state level tennis player at the small school level, after all.

"I always appreciated Kasey Dunn," former Stamford defensive coordinator and current head coach Ronnie Casey said. "Coach Dunn was the first to visit James and became his position coach. I always appreciated him because, when you're a college coach, recruiting is a big part of your job. If you miss on a bunch of recruits in a row, that's the kind of stuff that costs those coaches their job. We always battle, 'He stuck his neck out for the small school kid.' Because for every James that make it, there's nine (2A) kids that don't. The level of competition, the whole big fish in a small pond deal. A lot of those guys aren't mentally prepared for that level."

Of course, a lot of what made Washington successful in high school and college was hereditary.

But creating a quality high school program had to have helped the 5-foot-11, 213-pound wideout.

Monterey had a school-record and tied-for-region-best 10 football players sign college football scholarship agreements in February. A good chunk of them to junior colleges in an effort to reach the NCAA Division I level.

Hutchinson didn't find his way from a 2A to Monterey and Washington didn't reach the NFL the conventional ways either.

"I know you can go to the Metroplex and Houston and find, like, five or six schools and find great athletes a dime a dozen," Hutchinson said. "You can get a whole football team out of one city that can play. You've got some little towns around here that have some studs on them, that given the opportunity, and that's what I think happened James, given the opportunity to go to OSU, he's one of those kids that as the competition got better I think he got better. ... I think he'll do the same thing in the pros. I mean, I think they got a steal."