Scott Surratt is ‘The Man.’ His arrival into Carthage seven years ago was the best thing that could have happened to a lackluster football program, and what he’s managed to accomplish has been phenomenal to say the least. With four state championships under his belt, he’s brought a sense of pride and excitement not only to the school, but to the community as well.
Growing up in the small community of Linden, Texas, Scott graduated from Linden-Kildaire High School in 1986. He loved sports and was good at them. Up until his junior year in high school, baseball was his favorite sport, but when he began playing football on Friday nights as the quarterback and also linebacker, it surpassed baseball for the number one spot. He also played basketball, pole vaulted, won district in tennis three years and played golf his senior year. He went to East Texas Baptist University on a baseball scholarship and graduated in four years.
Scott met his wife, Summer, in 2000 and they were married less than a year later. She grew up in Hugo, Oklahoma, but moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas, her freshman year. She and her twin sister were good basketball players and their dad was a professional tennis player. The last match he played he lost to Arthur Ashe. Her step-dad played college basketball, and Scott’s dad was a minor-league baseball player who played one of his college years at Panola. Scott has two brothers. Stan was Athletic Director and Head Football/Basketball Coach and now he’s superintendent at Lindale. His brother Stacy played football and was also a bull rider. According to Scott, “My mother is probably the most competitive person I know.”
His first coaching job was at Redwater as the head baseball coach. From there he went to Little Cypress Mauriceville for two years as head baseball coach and passing coordinator. The next stop was his alma mater, Linden-Kildaire, as offensive coordinator for five years. In 1998 he took the passing coordinator job at Waxahachie for one year before heading to Texas High for the next eight years as the offensive coordinator. They won the state championship in 2002. Next on the list—Carthage. “Carthage is the dream job I always wanted to have before I turned 35,” says Scott. “I had a couple opportunities for jobs that I turned down, but Carthage was always on the radar. I didn’t hit the 35 year old mark, but I did at 39 and it has been a blessing.”
The main points Scott used in his interview were organization, discipline and toughness. Carthage was lacking in all three areas, so that struck a chord with the School Board. No need for a second interview…he was hired that night. “You have to be organized and have a vision and a plan,” says Surratt. “I have all that. I told everybody that education was the main thing we’d push and it still is. I also said my coaches can be like assistant principals and help out with discipline and grades. We have the best staff. They work hand-in-hand with us and if the kids get out of line, they call us first. It’s a team deal and that’s how I like it. Discipline is the most important part of any extracurricular sport.”
Surratt hit the floor running his first year. It took a while for the players to learn the new, sophisticated system. “When we first got here, everybody was going right when they were supposed to be going left. We started out 0 and 2. We got beat by what we felt like were not very good teams. We weren’t very tough mentally and God looked after us when he gave us an open week the third week.” The Bulldogs finished the 2007 season 9-3 and won the first outright District Championship in 15 years. In four of the next six years, Surratt and his coaches led the Bulldogs to four state championships. Daingerfield is the only other East Texas team with more state titles. They have six.
Downtime is not a word in Scott Surratt’s vocabulary. He’s already got a depth chart ready for next season. But he does manage to slip some time in for family and a little golf once in a while. He’s just spent 23 weeks working 7 days a week, so he’s due a little R & R. “I couldn’t do all this without Summer. She has to be the mom and dad during football season and she’s terrific at it. Every move I’ve made has been a great one and the best one I made was to marry her. She’s been really good for me.” Scott used to deer hunt a lot, but since football and deer season overlap, there’s no time for that. If it’s a pretty day, he’s going to be on the golf course. His son, Jett, is 6 and getting old enough to play now, and he loves it, plus daughter Addi who is 11 is starting to like it.
It’s natural to wonder if the lure of a larger school or even colleges will pull Surratt away from the small, close-knit community of Carthage. He’s had opportunities to move on—college opportunities as a position coach, jobs in the Metroplex and other areas of the state. His dad told him it’s not always greener on the other side of the fence. “When you have a great job,” Scott says, “you better research everything and make sure the other one is a great job. My fear is losing. That’s what drives me more than anything. Our record is 88 and 15 now. I can name within a minute the 15 losses we had. I can start in 2007 and tell you who beat us and why we got beat. We’ve had an opportunity to win every game except one.”
An East Texan at heart, Scott will tell you there’s not a better place in the state than Carthage as far as he’s concerned. “My wife loves it, my kids love it. As long as they’re happy and we’re being successful, I’m happy. I don’t think you can bring your kids up in a better school system or a better community. To be honest with you, I probably would have tried the college thing if it weren’t for having young kids. But college football is year round with very little downtime. I would love the challenge, but my wife and kids mean more to me than that.”
Scott has been very fortunate in every move he’s made. His mother has always been his biggest fan and his inspiration. His dad always coached him in baseball growing up and “was unbelievably tough on me, but I played my best ball under him. He’s a great coach and knows the game.” His older brother Stan has been a great role model. “If I ever have any questions on anything, I usually call him.” His high school coach Rodney Russell was also an inspiration. Chances are, a lot of the guys that have played for Scott will have the same thing to say about him someday. He’s made a difference in this community with his drive, his passion and his leadership. As stated on an area message board, “Thank you for making Carthage your home. We are very proud to have you!”