Vidor outlines search for next football coach; Jeff Mathews lauds ISD leadership

Published 4:00 am Wednesday, January 25, 2023

VIDOR — The next Vidor High School football coach and athletic director is likely to be named within two months.

The transition follows long-time coach Jeff Mathews’ decision Friday to step down.

Vidor Independent School District Superintendent Dr. Jay Killgo told Port Arthur Newsmedia the available job position has been posted at vidorisd.org, and candidates can apply.

An interview committee will be set up to vet candidates, and Killgo plans to make a recommendation to the Vidor ISD School Board in March.

Killgo will sit on the committee but does have veto power in recommending a candidate to the school board for hire.

“I have been superintendent for 11 years and probably hired 15 administrative positions this way, and there might have been one time that I disagreed with the committee,” he said.

The school board is set to meet March 6, but Killgo left open the possibility of calling a special meeting later in the month if more time is needed.

Mathews is leaving his position, a spot he has held since 1999, to pursue a career in the private sector.

Killgo said Mathews is one of the finest people he worked with.

“I say that honestly with 25 years in education,” Killgo said. “The personal qualities he has are rare in people. He truly cares for the kids. I’ve been struck by the leadership and responsibility he strives to impact to his students.”

Killgo describes Matthews as a great football coach who brings a depth of knowledge that will be tough to replace.

“He has been the total package,” Killgo said. “Our community trusts him. He means more to me as a friend and a person than as an employee, so I respect what he is doing. I am going to miss him.”

Vidor head coach Jeff Mathews (Van Wade/Orange Leader)

Lessons from Mathews

The first thing the Vidor staff teaches football players is “it’s not about me.”

Mathews says he never wanted players thinking about themselves as individuals in practice or on the field.

“I have been blessed in Vidor with a bunch of good kids that loved to work hard and loved to play for each other,” he said. “They bought into the family stuff. They bought into that we have to be the toughest team on the field, that we have to care about our teammates more than we do ourselves. “

Mathews has high praise for the administration at Vidor ISD and the various school boards he served under.

He said many other school districts hire and fire coaches specifically because of wins and losses.

“While I understand that is one of the goals, I and my coaches have never been judged by that,” he said. “I think they see we love the kids. My staff and I are always trying to prepare them to be better fathers, better husbands, better team members and better students.

“I have been blessed. There have been some years where they probably should have fired me if they based it on wins and loses. There were a couple of 3-7 (records). They kept what they believed in, remembered my promise and understood the life lessons we were teaching them.”

Mathews describes the Vidor School Board as a throwback to how it used to be.

“It’s got to the point now where it is win now or else,” he said about districts other then Vidor. “That is a sad thing. There are a lot of good coaches who have lost at other schools and been fired. They are great role models. There are some coaches who have been kept who won a lot of football games but didn’t care about kids after football.”