The six-man Bulldogs — both Zephyr and Mullin — have hired a new athletic director/head football coach, although neither will join his new school until after the spring semester.
The chain reaction of events began when Brent Williamson left Zephyr after one season to become Mullin’s new AD/head coach. Williamson is fulfilling his coaching and teaching duties at Zephyr through the end of the 2018-2019 school year.
Zephyr, in turn, hired Jeremy Phillips as its new AD/head coach. Phillips was Blanket’s defensive coordinator last season and will remain with Blanket through the current school year.
Both transactions were approved at school board meetings in March.
“It all happened pretty fast,” Zephyr superintendent Stanton Marwitz said. “Coach Phillips grew up in Richland Springs so he has seen six-man football all his life. He’s a good history teacher, too.”
Phillips has posted a 60-40 record with five playoff appearances in nine seasons as a head coach, including stops at Jayton and Rochelle. He also was Brookesmith’s head coach in 2010, when the Mustangs honored their varsity schedule even though they technically played as a JV team because they didn’t have enough eligible players.
Phillips guided Jayton to the state semifinals in 2007 and Rochelle to the state quarterfinals in 2015 when, coincidentally, the Hornets lost to Zephyr 52-44.
“We ran into Zephyr that year, and then I was defensive coordinator at Medina one year (2017) and we lost to Zephyr in bidistrict (58-32). So I know about their tradition,” Phillips said of his new school.
Phillips said he knew Marwitz going back to their playing days against each other in high school — Marwitz at Priddy and Phillips at Richland Springs.
“I know Zephyr lost a lot of seniors (nine on a 23-player roster), but when the school has tradition, it makes it easier to come in new and get things back on the right track,” Phillips said. “I know I’m their third head coach in three years and we’re in a competitive Division I district with Jonesboro, Evant and Lometa. But if the kids can catch on to our system in a hurry, we have a chance to be competitive.”
Zephyr started 5-1 last year, but lost its final two games to Jonesboro (86-78 in double overtime) and Lometa (66-44) and missed the playoffs with a 6-4 record.
“Leaving Blanket wasn’t an easy decision. Coach (Tyler) Tabor has the program in a good position over here,” Phillips said. “But I’m a head football coach. It’s what I do. I felt like this opportunity at Zephyr is right for me and my family.”
While Zephyr is seeking stability with Phillips after its recent coaching turnover, Williamson and Mullin both are chasing stability in the often unstable football coaching profession in Texas. After one-year stints at Blanket (5-5) and in his hometown of Zephyr (6-4), Williamson will be starting his third head-coaching challenge in three years. He also will be Mullin’s fourth head coach in four years.
“I’ve tried to build something everywhere I’ve been,” said Williamson, 54-39-1 with four playoff appearances in nine seasons as a head coach at Zephyr, Blanket, Gorman, High Island and Gustine. He coached High Island, located 30 miles northeast of Galveston, and Gorman through the transition from 11-man to six-man football. He led Gustine, High Island and Gorman to the playoffs.
At Mullin, Williamson’s biggest challenge will be low numbers. The Bulldogs have had about 10 players in high school in recent seasons, and have been forced to cancel a game here and there when injuries took a toll.
“We’re expecting 14 kids out next season,” Williamson said. “We probably won’t have any seniors and only one or two juniors. The rest will be freshmen and sophomores.
“I have to go in and sell our program to them. I believe in a lot of positive reinforcement. Mullin has struggled with numbers, but they’ve had success in the past. If they work hard and believe in themselves, I think they can be successful again.”
Mullin finished 3-7 last year. The Bulldogs are in District 15-1A Division II with Blanket, Brookesmith, Sidney and Rising Star.
“We don’t have great numbers in high school right now, but we have high numbers in junior high,” said Chayden Feist, Mullin’s high school principal. “Our junior high boys won the district track meet and our girls finished second.
“Coach Williamson is big on building future leaders. He believes in character and the development of young men, even over winning games. Our kids need that.”