Phil McWilliams

Phil McWilliams

Phil McWilliams was hired Monday as Haskell’s football coach.

For McWilliams, whose only coaching duties have come in 11 seasons at Hilldale, it’s his first head football job. He’s served as soccer coach and in football has had his hands on just about every unit on the squad including offensive coordinator from 2014-17 under Chad Kirkhart. He coached both sides of the line, outside linebackers,  running backs and special teams over time.

As offensive coordinator, McWilliams didn’t call the plays though. He handled practice duties and game planning.

When Kirkhart got out of football four seasons ago to become athletic director, it started McWilliams to thinking.

“I feel like I’ve always kind of wanted to take on that leadership role,” he said. “I was pretty happy with Chad to continue what I was doing. But after he got out it did start me thinking about doing it myself.”

But he wanted to stay put until the last of his kids (Jaden, who played football and Bella, who played soccer) graduated, which they do this spring.

“It frees me up a little to make a move away since I won’t have any more kids to worry about,” he said. “The main thing is I wanted them to finish there.  As long as you’re doing what you think is right, regardless of your kids being with you or not, I think you’re on the right path.”

McWilliams replaces Greg Nation, who was there two seasons. He was drawn into interest in the Haskell job by one-time head football coach Greg Wilson, who led the Haymakers to the Class 2A finals in 2015 and is still in the coaching mix at the school.

“Coach Wilson reaching out to me was big,” he said. “I didn’t know how good an opportunity it would be but when he called, I trust him and know him well enough that I feel it’s a good situation, good support and good backing from AD and administration.

“Having said that, there is a lot of change taking place. I think it’ll help me not going in as the only new guy.”

Haskell superintendent Rodney Luellen, a girls basketball coach who just took over the superintendent job, could not be reached for comment Monday night.

McWilliams said he intends to meet with football players tomorrow and be on the field by Thursday to start spring practice. Haskell hired another assistant on Monday, Tony Springer out of Catoosa, one McWilliams was on board with but didn’t know. McWilliams said the plan is to hire one more to the staff.

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