Community Profile: New Coal Ridge Football Head Coach – a former Crockett Williams – eager to take the program in a new direction
One of the most important moments in Crockett Williams’ footballing life came when he suffered a concussion.
It was the first year and the now 29-year-old former Titans was sidelined after shaking his cage. On the way up, his friend took Williams’ place and put in a solid performance.
“Next week he actually replaced me – they started him,” Williams said of his successor. “It was really hard for me, knowing that my whole life has been what I was doing, and now all of a sudden someone kind of passed me and took my position.”
It was do or die for Williams at this point. He was forced to bite the bullet and not only learn but hopefully excel in a new position. That, or perhaps wasting the ever elusive chance of locking down a starting spot on the roster.
“I was made safe the next game,” he said. “From there I had a pretty good game, and from there I remember (former coach Jim Hoffman) came to me and said, ‘That could’ve been the best thing. that is happening to you because you are going to get the chance to safely start college this week.
Starting in the coming season, Williams’ mental and physical resilience should come in handy as he moves on from assistant coach to replace Paul Downing as head coach of his alma mater.
Titans football needs a little boost.
Last season ended with a hard-fought 3-3 overall record and one playoff shot before Coal Ridge lost to league foe Aspen in the final. But the Titans have produced just two winning records since the 2010-11 season.
The 2017-18 season ended with a respectable overall standings of 5-4 but no playoff offers. The 2010 season marks the last time the Titans secured a playoff berth. That year – a season after Williams graduated – Coal Ridge notched an overall record of 7-4 but suffered a 2A playoff loss in the first round to Kent Denver.
But there is always light in the dark, Williams said. Especially in football.
“When you start playing football, no matter what type of athlete you are, there are always things you will need to develop,” he said. “You’re going to have to work hard for these things. It is not a sport where you can count on one person. It takes a team. “
Coal Ridge doesn’t necessarily have kids who can lift dead trucks, Williams said.
“But we have a lot of kids with a ton of character, we have kids who are really good academically and we have kids who are amazing athletes,” he said.
Next season will be Williams’ first time as a head coach. He spent the 2021 season as an assistant coach under Downing.
There is some initial shock to taking on such a role. But once Williams got over the feeling, the excitement kicked in.
“I understand that there are a lot of things everyone has to be patient with, with me being a new coach,” said Williams. “But I also understand that I know I hold myself to a very high standard. And so, when I was weighing the decision, I basically had to be sure that I was ready to take that pressure on me. “
Built for it
You could almost say that Williams was naturally well positioned to become the person behind the X’s and Bones at Coal Ridge.
Williams was originally born in Odessa, Texas, a legendary Lone Star State football factory that has produced at least five National Football League players in the past 40 years.
But instead of growing up lacing his cleats in one of the nation’s leading youth football states, Williams quickly moved to the Colorado River Valley in Garfield County, where he grew up living in places like Rifle, Silt and New Castle.
Many kids who grew up around soccer around this time in Colorado had their favorites. Maybe it was Denver Broncos Terrell Davis, Ed McCaffrey or the great John Elway. For Williams, however, he took inspiration from a completely different type of NFL legend.
“If I can think of one person who has been a huge inspiration in my life, it’s Pat Tillman,” said Williams.
Tillman was an Arizona Cardinals goaltender who moved away from football to serve in Afghanistan, where he was tragically killed by friendly fire.
“Everything I learned from him was a huge inspiration,” said Williams.
Throughout his high school years, not only did Williams draw inspiration from players like Tillman to help him bounce off the pitch at different starting points, but that fuel brought him back to his favorite spot on the pitch. Williams completed his final year as the Titans’ starting quarterback.
But looking back, Williams said his colleagues at Coal Ridge inspire him as well. In college, the Coal Ridge alumnus did his undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder, then earned a master’s degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. From there, he spent some time in California before returning to Garfield County in the summer of 2020.
“I really hadn’t thought much about football in the last 10 years, until I came back to Coal Ridge,” said Williams. “I just decided they needed an assistant coach and decided to give it a try, and of course it just sucked me in.… It all feels really natural now.”
Understandably, Coal Ridge Athletic Director and Dean of Students Ben Kirk said Coal Ridge is thrilled that Williams is taking over.
“First and foremost, we’re just super excited for a new head football coach,” Kirk said. “I mean, we obviously got to know him, he went to Coal Ridge, he was an athlete here, a student, when he was a kid, and then he became a whole different person.”
Kirk said Williams will undoubtedly do great things for Titans football.
“I think this is probably the first time that I can say that because every time we fill this position, we don’t really know who is doing it,” he said. “He’s a new guy from a new field who doesn’t know what he’s getting into.
“Crockett knows all of this.”
More than that, Williams has a very high standard for himself, Kirk admitted.
“He’s just an exceptional man,” Kirk said of Williams, who also teaches social studies in high school. “I guarantee you that’s what he’s going to teach the kids. I guarantee you it will be the wait. Are they going to win a ton of games because of this in the first year? No. But if he sticks around for five or six years, they will because he’s going to have the right kind of kids doing the right things.
Without revealing too much, Williams said he plans to implement a game plan that responds to the strengths of the students under his tutelage: athleticism, character and intelligence.
“So the system that we are developing offensively and defensively is sort of taking the direction of taking advantage of all of these things,” he said.
In the meantime, Williams has said he’s excited to see those plans unfold in the near future.
“(I am) excited to try to really make the community enthusiastic about football,” he said.
Journalist Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or [email protected]