An article in the Nov. 20 Prince William Extra on the resignation of Forest Park football coach Jerry Williams should have said that Strasburg Coach Glenn Proctor, not Williams, is a member of the state hall of fame. (Published 11/24/05)
How's this for a want ad: High school football program with .245 winning percentage seeks new coach. Program is three miles down road from rival team that has won three state titles the past eight years. Coach who won first two of those titles will be your principal. Send applications to . . .
That's the situation at Forest Park, after coach Jerry Williams resigned Monday from the program he led to a 13-40 varsity record since he founded it in 2000. Before taking the job, Williams had been offensive coordinator for Bill Brown on two state championship teams at Hylton. Brown is the Forest Park principal.
Brown said he does not expect the program's lack of success, Hylton's looming presence or his own involvement to deter qualified coaching candidates.
"I'm anticipating a strong interest and I think it can be a good job," Brown said. "Our approach will be to find someone who's a good role model and [guiding] kids in the right direction with life as well as football, and being able to generate enthusiasm and make it fun for kids to be part of the experience."
Brown said he walked into the Forest Park gym Monday -- the first day of winter sport tryouts -- and was "shocked" when he saw some of the physical specimens on hand.
"There were probably 25 kids in there that I said, 'My goodness, I believe I could take these 25 right here and win six or eight football games,' " Brown said. "But there were two of them playing football. Those kids are in this building but for whatever reason they aren't out on the football field. It will be key to get those kids out."
Both Brown and Activities Director Don Brown voiced their admiration for Williams's commitment to the program. "I've been in football all my life, and nobody, anywhere, is going to outwork Jerry Williams," Bill Brown said. Williams, 51, is a county coaching veteran whose resume includes starting the Hylton baseball program.
When Forest Park opened, the general feeling was that, in a few years, it would become Hylton II or Hylton lite, because it would draw from areas that at the time were feeding the Bulldogs some of their state title talent.
That never happened. The schedule did the fledgling Bruins no favors -- they had to play Hylton, Gar-Field and Woodbridge twice a year from 2001 to '04, their first four varsity seasons. In those seasons, Forest Park posted a 3-7 record on three occasions and a 2-8 mark the other year.
"All those [schedule] things are excuses," Williams said. "They really are. That's the schedule we were presented, the schedule we had to play and everybody had to play it. I just didn't get it done. That's the bottom line. [Stepping down] is best for me and I know it's best for Forest Park. They deserve better than what they've had."
This season, with a new scheduling format, Forest Park played those Cardinal District opponents just once each, but the first three nondistrict teams on the schedule went a combined 24-6 this fall, and only three foes this season finished under .500. The Bruins were 2-8, including a loss to first-year varsity program Battlefield.
"The thing that took [my decision] over the top was I'm not a Type A personality, I'm probably more of a type Triple-A personality," Williams said. "The losses got to where it hurt too bad and I didn't enjoy the wins. The losses just devastated me."
What turned out to be the last loss came against Hylton on Nov. 10, a 47-7 pounding that mirrored Forest Park's brief history with its rivals up Spriggs Road. In the Bruins' nine meetings with the Bulldogs -- all losses -- Hylton outscored Forest Park, 308-41.
Over the years, the Bruins not only lost games to Hylton, but some talent, as well, players who transferred to the school that has won seven straight Virginia AAA Northwestern Region Division 6 titles.
"We had some kids that went up there, and went up there for various reasons, and if it was because Coach Williams wasn't very good or didn't treat his players right, that's my responsibility, if that's the case," Williams said. "If I had a son who was a great player and was looking to go to school in this area, whatever the sport may be, obviously they're going to try to get in somewhere where they've been successful, and I can understand that."
The highlight for the Bruins this season might have been scoring 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to beat Gar-Field in the ninth game. Forest Park had trailed by 14, then tied the score, then fell behind by 10 only to rally back.
Williams, who played high school football at Strasburg for Glenn Proctor, is, like Bill Brown, a member of the state hall of fame. He plans to fill his autumn void by spending more time at his daughters' volleyball matches with his wife, Janet. Jenna Williams is a junior at Christopher Newport University, and Jillian just completed her sophomore season on the Forest Park team.
"I used to tell the kids all the time that you have to keep things in perspective," Williams said. "I may have had it out of perspective a little bit. I wanted us to be successful. I was consumed by it. It's like we were spiraling down the hill. I'm not ashamed of the effort or the care or any of that, because I think I worked as hard as anybody could possibly work.
"I'll steal one of Bill's lines: [The program] was the first thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning, and the last thing on my mind when I went to bed, every day of the year."