Tom Bean has stayed in house to fill the voids in its athletic department and though it initially sought to re-combine the athletic director and head football coach positions after a three-year split, those jobs will remain apart for the time being.
Head softball coach Lance Cherry was chosen to be the AD while Aaron Whitmire was elevated to be the head football coach.
The decision is a change from the initial plan after the school district posted an opening for a dual head football coach and athletic director position following the resignation of Zach Wood as the football coach in late March — just weeks after Wes Chapman stepped down as athletic director and head boys basketball coach to become the communications director at Sherman Bible Church.
The AD and head football jobs were split three years ago when the previous football coaching search was held. Chapman emerged as the choice to add athletic director duties starting in April of 2018 and then three weeks later Wood was elevated to be the head football coach after serving as the defensive coordinator in 2017 following two previous years on the Tomcat staff.
Cherry, who has led the Lady Tomcats for 15 years, now has more responsibility beyond leading the softball team and serving as the girls athletic coordinator. He assumed the latter title two years ago when Bobbie McAdoo retired.
Cherry has been at Tom Bean since 2006 and the Lady Tomcats have made several deep playoff runs in his tenure, reaching a region final and setting the school record for wins with 25.
Including this season, Tom Bean has made the playoffs 12 times in his 15 seasons, including five straight, and made the region final in 2017, losing 2-0 against eventual Class 2A state champion Bells and finishing with a 24-4 mark.
The program had made the third round of the playoffs just once before Cherry took over (1999) and has been there six times. A win this weekend would mark another regional quarterfinal appearance. The Lady Tomcats have made the second round in all 12 of his playoff trips.
He was the assistant softball coach at Grayson College from 2002-06, helping the Lady Vikings to four straight region tournament berths, before taking over at Tom Bean.
Whitmire has made several stops around Texoma in a career that spans 25 years.
He is in his second stint at Tom Bean, which began in 2019, as a football assistant and head powerlifting coach.
Before that he spent a year at Whitewright, which followed a four-year stretch as the offensive coordinator at Lindsay.
Whitmire’s initial stint at Tom Bean was in the offensive coordinator role for 2011 and 2012.
In his lone season as a head coach, he guided Bells to a 6-5 record in 2010 and the program’s first playoff berth since 1997 and the team’s best record from 1998 to 2014.
He had been the Panthers offensive coordinator under Charles Boles for two seasons before being elevated to lead the program.
After graduating from Southeastern Oklahoma State, Whitmire spent four years at Denison and then had his first stint at Whitewright, which was his longest stretch at seven years (2000-07) and included being the head girls track and head powerlifting coach. He went to Collinsville for the following year.
This past season the Tomcats went 2-6 overall, originally starting with a nine-game schedule to provide an extra bye week to allow for COVID-19 makeups and then had their game against Quinlan Boles cancelled due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Boles program.
Tom Bean finished 1-4 in District 5-2A (I) play and in fifth place, one game out of a playoff spot. The Tomcats needed to win their finale game against Collinsville to force a three-way tie with the Pirates and Trenton in third place.
The program hasn’t had a winning season since 2008 or won a playoff game since 2004. The back-to-back playoff appearances in 2018 and 2019 marked the first time Tom Bean made consecutive postseason trips since three straight from 2002-04 and for just the third time in program history, also joining three straight trips from 1993-95.
Tom Bean will again be in 5-2A (I) with Lindsay, Alvord, Collinsville, Trenton and Tioga for the upcoming season before realignment takes place in February.