The cows are waiting for Glen Kelley, but they’ll continue to be patient. Kelley is currently herding another group, a feisty Texas City Bengals senior football team that heads into Saturday’s game against Hitchcock Red Raiders with an undefeated record that began when Kelley helped start up the squad from scratch four years ago. While last Saturday’s 22-18 against Deer Park was a challenge, the Bengals keep pushing closer toward having their coach go out a winner.
Having coach the Texas City Rebels/Stingrays for more than three decades, Kelley will call it a career after the season, a career that was originally slated to end two years ago before he committed to seeing the journey through with the club’s first crop of players. “This is it,” he said with a laugh. “The wife (Melissa) said it’s time, so we’ll keep it going to the finish line. I’ve had a lot of memories as a coach, but it’s time to move on.”
Having played as a defensive end and linebacker as a member of the Rebels, Kelley came back to coach the team and guided them for more than two decades, winning a host of championships while also developing a deep list of young men who eventually contributed to the success of the Stingarees high school football success. He appeared ready to retire as a coach before the opportunity to build the Bengals presented itself. “There were so many local kids that were playing out of the area,” he said, “so we thought it the presented itself to add a second team in the city. Oh, it was a challenge. We were starting on the ground floor as we no sponsors nor any equipment, but we were able to find some great people and businesses that enabled to get off the ground without a hitch.”
Coaching has become a family affair with the Kelley family, as he has three grandchildren participating while his three sons are each on the sidelines. Glen, Jr. is a coach with the Bengals’ junior team, while Kevin is a coach on the freshman team. J.J. Kelley patrols the sidelines with his dad when the seniors are in action. Not only are his sons there, the presence of his wife of 41 years is also evident as she served as the team’s player representative for the previous three years before serving as his guiding light in the stands.
Kelley says there’s no secret formula for success. There’s no innovative formations or the sort. “It’s hard work and discipline,” he said. “We stress the fundamentals over the week and the kids are translating that on the field each Saturday.”
Like any other area sports team, the Bengals were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, as numerous players were forced to focus on losses that went beyond the scoreboard. Still, the character of the team shined as the lessons learned from Kelley enabled them to rise up in the most challenging moment of their young lives.
“Once they missed a few practices, the kids wanted to know when they would start,” said Sheleen Younger, who volunteers as the organizer for the Bengals’ cheerleaders. “I feel that what we went through in the storm has made more closer as a family than we already were.”
The family atmosphere is one aspect that Kelley will miss, yet as each game brings him closer to the final chapter of a coaching career whose success can be felt across Galveston County and beyond through the players he once coached, he’s made peace with it. “To go out as a winner would be a dream come true,” he said. “I’ll always pop in and grab a chair to watch, but I’m just looking forward to spending more time with Melissa and my grandkids. We’ve thought about buying trailer and riding across the country, so that’s something to look forward to.” That, and his cows.