By ROB HAMILTON
Jerry Williams will make his debut as a head coach this August for the Cardington Pirates as he steps into the job after Brandon Dodrill held it for the past four seasons, compiling a 16-24 record. The coach has a lot of experience with the sport, though, playing at Big Walnut High School and then at West Liberty State College. After graduating college, he served as an assistant at Big Walnut for a couple years before entering the business world. However, the gridiron lured him back and in recent years, he was been an assistant at both high schools (Centerburg, Mount Vernon and Big Walnut) and college (Ohio Wesleyan University) before taking on the Cardington job.
“I saw the posting and this is my first head coaching job,” said Williams. “I like the small-school atmosphere and the community involvement and what that brings to football.”
Working his way up to the head coaching ranks was a goal of Williams when he decided to get back into coaching.
“I know when I decided to get back into coaching in 2007, I wanted to be a head coach,” he said. And so he spent his years as an assistant learning the ropes. He served as offensive coordinator at Centerburg and, while at Mount Vernon, got a “great mentor” in their coach, Gary Keller. After leaving there, he then, as he put it, “learned the Xs and Os” at Ohio Wesleyan.
“After that, I felt very confident in having a head coaching position,” he said.
Williams noted that while he comes into the job with a hard-nosed, old-school mentality, he also is a fan of the more modern up-tempo sort of offense. However, what he looks at as most important is crafting the sort of team he likes.
“I want to bring these guys together as a team,” he said. “These guys will be physical and hard-nosed. That’s just who we are.”
So far, as the summer has progressed, he likes how things are going. “The kids here have been willing to learn, especially the younger group,” he said. “There’s a high demand to get into the weight room and the return has been good. The kids are great and I have a very good staff I’ve been able to put together. There are still a lot of unanswered questions — not until we put the helmets and shoulder pads on will we know what we have.”
Williams added that not only have the players been receptive, but the community has, as well.
“We had a golf outing fundraiser and partnered with the basketball team and it sold out,” he said. “The parents have been supportive and it’s been a pleasure so far.”
As the season approaches, Williams has high hopes for his players.
“The bottom line is that I want them to come together as a team,” he said. “Our goal is to be conference champions and we’ll go into the season with that goal. I want the kids to come out believing in themselves.”
Reach Rob Hamilton at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807, or on Twitter at @SportsMCS