The dean of Central Texas football coaches is stepping away from the sideline.

La Vega’s Willie Williams is stepping down as head football coach after 28 seasons, the most of any coach in the area. Williams plans to remain at La Vega ISD in his role as athletic director, and defensive coordinator Don Hyde is slated to succeed Williams as head football coach, the school district announced Tuesday.

“The class and integrity with which Coach Williams has maintained the La Vega athletic program over his 27-year career has been nothing short of phenomenal,” read La Vega ISD’s press release. “He and his teams have represented La Vega ISD proudly.”

Williams has been a fixture at La Vega for more than four decades. He was a standout running back at La Vega as a student, graduating in 1977. After college, in 1983, he returned to his alma mater as an assistant coach, then took over as head coach in 1990.

“It was a difficult decision, but the way I looked at it, it was the right time,” Williams said. “This will give me the opportunity to go those basketball games, to go watch (my son) Jamal play in college. And, besides, Coach Hyde has been at it for a while now, and he was ready for it. I know he’ll do a great job.”

Williams guided the Pirates to a 214-109-2 record, including a perfect 16-0 season in 2015 that culminated with La Vega’s first state football championship in school history. In each of the past three seasons, La Vega produced an undefeated regular season under Williams’ leadership. His 214 wins rank 69th in state history, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football Magazine records, and he is La Vega’s all-time winningest football coach.

Williams’ sons Vincent and Jamal both played quarterback for Willie, with Jamal recording a 47-4 record, tied with Bremond’s Roshauud Paul for the most victories of any quarterback in Texas high school football history. In 2017, Jamal’s senior season, La Vega won its first 14 games before falling to eventual state champion Carthage, 46-39, in the Class 4A Div. I state semifinals.

Williams said that he’s sure he’ll miss the challenge of Friday nights and the friendly rivalries he experienced around Central Texas.

“I’ll definitely miss the competition,” Williams said. “I’m friends with all those guys, Coach (Ray) Biles, Coach (Tommy) Allison, Coach (Mark) Bell and all those guys. There’s been a lot of camaraderie. We’ve competed game after game, and I’m going to miss standing on the sideline and going against those guys. But I’ll still be around, maybe in the press box, and I’ll be cheering those kids on.”

Williams was the 2015 Super Centex Coach of the Year and the Class 4A Coach of the Year on the Texas Sports Writers Association All-State Team that season.

Hyde has served as La Vega’s defensive coordinator since 2006, presiding over one of the state’s top defensive units the past several seasons. He plans to retain the current La Vega assistant coaching staff, Williams said.

For his part, Williams is looking forward to remaining part of the La Vega family, even while transitioning into a new phase of life.

“Everything stays the same, except I’m just not the head football coach,” Williams said. “But as athletic director, I can now go to a volleyball game on a Friday night, I can go to those soccer games. I’ve told our head coaches, I want to do whatever I can to try to help elevate all of our athletic programs.”

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