In the summer of 2015, Cody Moore arrived at a construction site on U.S. Highway 380. The former offensive coordinator had just accepted his first head coaching job at Braswell, a brand-new high school located 13 miles east of Denton.
He stepped out of his truck and looked out into the empty space, visualizing a thriving high school and successful athletic program.
Moore knew this moment would only be the beginning of a process that tested him in every way possible. He understood that starting a program from scratch would take lots of time and patience, but he embraced the challenges that the new job would present.
“I knew it would be tough,” Moore said. “But I wanted to be here from the start and create something special for the students, faculty and community that are involved with Braswell High School.”
In Braswell’s first season, the Bengals went 0-10 and didn’t score a touchdown until the third week of the season against Frisco Reedy. Moore said his program’s first touchdown “felt like winning the super bowl,” and the Bengals were so excited that they forgot how to line up for the extra point.
In 2017, Braswell captured a momentum-building win against Denton to cap off a two-win season before improving to three wins in 2018.
Despite only winning five games in three years, Moore and his staff expressed optimism heading into the 2019 season. They felt as if this season had the potential to be the breakout campaign the program so desperately needed.
Turns out, Moore’s instinct was correct.
Braswell enters the area round of the playoffs this weekend on an eight-game winning streak that has propelled its overall record to 9-2.
Throughout the course of the year, the Bengals have advanced to their first postseason, won a share of their first district title and won their first playoff game last week against Corsicana.
“It’s hard for me to put into words on how far we’ve come in the last four years,” Moore said. Our coaching staff stayed the course and did what they were asked to do. We always knew that there was a big picture ahead of us, and if we did the little things the right way, this would turn into something special.”
Moore also performed duties in his first year on the job that most high school football coaches are not expected to do. He attended construction meetings to help lay out the school and its athletics facilities while coaching middle school football at Navo, which is one of the feeder schools for Braswell.
Moore’s other priorities in his first year were to establish relationships with future Bengals. Moore would actually go to Denton ISD schools such as Ryan or Denton and bring the student-athletes donuts in an effort to get to know them.
“You know, at the time, there wasn’t really an opportunity to do anything else because it was just me,” Moore said. “I didn’t have a staff, and we couldn’t do any football activities. I just felt like the best thing to do at that time was to develop a relationship with them.”
That following January, Moore began to hire assistant coaches, six of which remain on the Bengals’ staff today.
But when Braswell wanted to organize 7-on-7 practices later in the spring, there was a problem.
The school wasn’t completed, so no facilities were built yet. In an effort to kickstart football drills, Moore and some of his coaches loaded kids in vehicles and drove them to Savannah — a nearby community just east of Braswell, where they searched for patches of grass to practice on.
“I could tell you countless stories of the crazy things we had to do just to get this program off the ground,” Moore said. “It was interesting. It’s bringing back a lot of memories for me that I haven’t thought about in a couple years.”
During the program’s first offseason, Moore felt that his program needed something to gain confidence after a winless season. He decided to hold a book study for the upcoming juniors and seniors.
At the end of these discussions, the Bengals came up with three core values to represent their program: accountability, hard work and toughness.
“I felt like establishing a culture and implementing core principles was our first step,” Moore said. “Everybody had a say in that book study, players and coaches. We developed a signature vision of what we wanted this to be, and those core values still remain in our program today.”
Those principles have led into this season’s slogan, “Bring The Axe”. The whole idea revolves around the Bengals “sharpening the axe” during the offseason before bringing it for battle on Friday nights in the fall.
“Coach Moore is very passionate about what he does, and he cares about everyone as people,” Braswell quarterback Greyson Thompson said. “He has gotten all of us to buy in to this winning culture that we call the Bengal Lifestyle. When us players all focus on the little things every day, winning will take care of itself.”
And at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Braswell will continue its historic run when they clash with Red Oak for an area championship.
Instead of playing catch on random patches of grass, Braswell will be playing under the bright lights at AT&T Stadium, the pinnacle of Texas high school football and home of the Dallas Cowboys.
“It’s amazing to witness the growth of this program,” Moore said. “Every player that has been a part of and finished the program can take pride in knowing they had something to do with this. If people would have seen where we began, not many would believe that we’d be at Jerry’s World in just four years. It’s a fun time to be a Bengal.”