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West legend Wilson new BHS skipper

Bill Wilson said one of his biggest problems as a legendary head football coach at West High School was beating those "dad-burned rascals" at Bearden.

Now the rivalry shoe is on the other foot for Wilson, who comes out of retirement to become the new head football coach at Bearden High School as announced at a Monday, May 1, press conference at BHS.

Having coached football for 33 seasons, Wilson's legendary status at West High School grew to the point of having the football field named in his honor after 30 years coaching at the school before retiring in the late 1990s.

Wilson, 57, labeled his new job, "an unbelievable situation," adding that since he's been away from coaching, "You're so motivated, it's just almost unbelievable, like a dream-come-true that you're doing this again."

Pointing to the difficulty in playing Class 5A football, and noting Bearden's "tough" 2006 schedule, BHS athletic director and assistant principal Lynn Hill said, "someone that takes over this job has to have some very special talents. And I believe we have chosen the man that has those talents and can do the job."

Saying when he was first approached by BHS officials, "I thought it was a dream," Wilson said. "Since I gave up coaching I'd wake up in the middle of the night thinking, 'Oh gosh, I'm not a head football coach anymore, and I broke out in a sweat.' ... I hadn't really been pursuing a coaching job in several years."

Saying he was first contacted by BHS in February, "a brief conversation," Wilson added things got serious "within the past twenty-four hours" [Sunday, April 30]."

Addressing his new BHS players Monday during the press conference, "I feel very privileged, not only to have these gentlemen [pointing to the coaches] ... but to have you guys," Wilson said. "It's been a while since I had a football team. ... I miss the contact with kids like you. It's an absolute pleasure, there's no doubt in my mind this is one of the most special situations I've even been involved with.

After pointing out four new coaches on his staff who worked under him at WHS, Wilson said, "what makes a great program are the players, and you will be responsible for winning games, guys.

"This is a tough sport, so you better get buckled up," Wilson added. "... We're going to have fun. It's imperative you have fun. It's imperative we stick together, and we will stick together."

Wilson announced the Bulldogs spring practice schedule, two weeks in duration, begins today [Thursday, May 4] "with contact drills," culminating with the annual BHS spring game in Bearden Stadium at 7 p.m., Thursday, May 18.

Looking ahead to the fall season, "We're going to ... get better every day, and all at once we're going to come out of that locker room, and I think Cumberland County will be here [season-opener at BHS]," Wilson said.

"They we go somewhere down the road, West High?" the coach added with a note of humor, with laughs around the room, in pretending to be unfamiliar with his former team and his new team's second game of 2006.

Wilson later said coaching against the Rebels is "the only negative thing in my mind" concerning his new job. "That is a problem, because I love that place. But it's time to beat 'em now."

Wilson added that "football changes rapidly," and because he's been away for about seven seasons, "we're going to have to work really hard."

Wilson is a 1967 graduate of Fulton High School who went on to be a four-year starter at linebacker at Carson-Newman College before beginning his coaching career.

Wilson will not be a teacher at BHS, but will instead remain as a "consultant with Knox County Schools, I'm still over the driver's ed program."

The West legend said the Rebels' best season during his head coaching career was in 1994, advancing to the TSSAA state semifinals and ending with an 11-3 record.


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