Port Isabel Hires Strunk As New Head Football Coach


(CBS 4 Sports) - Point Isabel ISD moved quickly to find a new head football coach after the late in the school year resignation of Jaime Infante. The district hired former Lubbock High head coach Jason Strunk and announced the hiring via its social media outlets on Tuesday.

Strunk is complete about-face from their previous head coaching search which brought Infante to Port Isabel. Infante, a former PI assistant, had several years of success as a head coach at Lyford before returning last season to lead the Tarpons. The move was met with some questions from the community who preferred the running attack of previous head coach Monty Stumbaugh to the spread attack of Infante. The Tarpons were just 2-7 in Infante's only season and for this coaching search, which was extremely late for hiring a new athletic program leader, the district elected to look outside the Rio Grande Valley in addition to looking for those with Port Isabel ties.

According to a source close to the hiring committee one of the finalists was former PI offensive coordinator and current Calallen assistant Jake Hofstetter.

Strunk's coaching resume isn't eye catching at first glance. He managed just 11 wins in seven seasons with the Westerners. With some perspective one can spot the reasons for Strunk being an intriguing hire.

In 2012, Strunk's second season in Lubbock; in the midst of a 25 game losing streak the Westerners snapped that skid and made the playoffs for the first time since 1975. It was the only playoff appearance in his tenure at a school where fielding a varsity team is challenging due to the enrollment demographics at the school.

"The win-loss record while at Lubbock does not reflect the belief of his players, fellow coaches and the community, that he was the best coach Lubbock High School ever had," the district said in its press release. The reason for that belief in Strunk could be from a blog piece Strunk wrote that earned him some national attention. He spoke up for his players who were often called "losers" in their own community and explained how hard his players were working. Strunk wanted it to be known that losing football games doesn't make players "losers"

This is an excerpt from that blog entry - The Full entry is available here

Attitude, Effort
Our mantra this season is to play and practice with attitude and effort. Nobody can ever take that away from us. We control “we”. Four games into this season, the attitude and effort is right where it needs to be.
I know this. We are not the most talented team on the field. We get by with effort. We play teams that are more athletic than we are, but we play harder than our opponents. We play hard and we play harder when needed.
You need to be ready to play four quarters when you line up against us. We will not quit. We will not relent. We are a bunch of fighters. You will not break us and you cannot break our attitude and mindset. We will just keep coming at you.
This team is awesome. They have bought in. We are getting by on grit and toughness. We are pushing teams to the brink because we play hard. Nobody can ever take that away from us. We are going to come after you. Eventually, we are going to flip the win-loss column.
Our kids get disrespected daily. They hear all the time how bad they are. The common line is, “you guys suck.” Imagine hearing that every day in your own hallways. It is mind-numbing.
This has been going on at LHS for 40+ years. The problem didn’t start with my current team, they weren’t even born when LHS began their struggles. But they pay for it every day. My players pay for the past 40 years of struggles. It isn’t right. It isn’t fair.
My message to them on a daily basis is life isn’t fair sometimes, but you need to keep moving along. You cannot let negativity get to you. Tune-out the noise is theme every day. We control “we.” The naysayers do not suit up for practice. They do not come in on weekends. They do not matter. The naysayers have no clue what we do. Truth be told, they couldn’t handle the rigors of a football season and the stress that comes with it. That’s why they don’t hit the field with us.
What I am telling you is this: we play hard and we don’t care what you think of us. You better show up to play when LHS is in the stadium. We aren’t going anywhere. We will fight you to the death, if need be.
This is a special group of young men. They are figuring life out through the ups-and-downs of football. They are relentless in their pursuit of progress. They want to win and they work for it.
There are coaches in this state, and other states, winning state titles yearly. They wouldn’t last a week in my chair. This is a special place and it takes a special coaching staff to persevere. This job isn’t for the weak.
Attitude and effort. It’s life and football. We will continue to march forward, with total disregard for naysayers. We will play hard and give you all you can handle. I will make sure this happens until the day I die.
I love this team and the young men in that locker room. They are fantastic kids. We are in this together.
That’s all I have to say about all that.
We are FIO’ing!!!

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