HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL / SOFTBALL

Calling it a career

Sabine AD Comfort retiring

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Citing more time with family, Sabine High School athletic director Mark Comfort has decided to retire.

Actually, coach Comfort told the News Herald on Thursday that it’s something that’s been in the works for a while.

“It’s time,” Comfort said Thursday. “I haven’t had a fall with my wife (Cindy) in 38 years. It’s time to start seeing my grandkids.”

The 61-year-old has helmed the Sabine athletic department, the football program and the softball program for the last five seasons, and has had great success. In fact, after missing the playoffs in football for 29 consecutive seasons, Comfort and his Cardinals finally broke down that barrier, and have gotten in three straight years now.

And softball never really had much of a barrier at Sabine: the Lady Cardinals are a playoff mainstay, and have continued to be under Comfort’s guidance. They’ve made the postseason in each of his five years at the school, and have sent several on to play in the college ranks.

Comfort, who was a football assistant at Longview High School for 21 years, then a football assistant and softball coach at both Pine Tree and Spring Hill, actually came to Sabine six years ago, as a football assistant and head softball coach, and then took over for coach Jerry Baker upon Baker’s departure. It was Comfort’s first head coaching job. Comfort hasn’t won every game, to be sure – his record at Sabine is 16-37 – but he has provided a stability that Sabine had not really seen prior to his arrival.

He also coached the Cardinals in 2014 to a 6-5 record, their first winning season in 12 years. In fact, since Barry Morgan coached the Cards in the mid-1980s, there have been eight head coaches: Roger Geise (1989, 1990), Ted Allen (1991-1995), Darrell Aldridge (1996-2000), Walt Causey (2001-2004), Greg Anderson (2005-06), David Feaster (2007), Jerry Baker (2008-11), and Comfort. Causey in 2002, then Comfort in ’14, were the only two coaches to have a season in which the Cardinals won more than five games.

Comfort’s softball success isn’t to be understated, either. He went 340-168-5, having had success at PT, Spring Hill (he guided them to the state tournament) and at SHS. And his Lady Cardinals are primed for another playoff run this year.

But Comfort won’t be leading the way. Instead, it’ll be Donne Cline, formerly of Big Sandy High School, brought onto staff earlier this school year, with one of the purposes being to coach the softball program.

“Donne will assume softball head coaching duties,” Comfort confirmed. “He’ll be assisted by coach Sarah Cantrell.”

Comfort said he will retire following the school year.

Meanwhile, the search will be on for the Sabine ISD school board to find Comfort’s successor, as both football coach and AD.

If Comfort could talk to the candidates, he might be able to sway one of them easily.

“This is a great place,” Comfort said. “I was at Longview (High) for 21 years, at Pine Tree for four, at Spring Hill for seven, and then here. The people here are great. It was a good place to make my final stop.”

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