Coach Phil Williams will be stepping down next year from his role as basketball coach and Religion IV teacher at St. Paul’s due to a consensus decision by his family. This decision came after the basketball team had its best season in school history, earning the district title, making it to the second round of the state playoffs, and breaking a 48-year-old school record for consecutive games won in a single season.
“I am retiring from St. Paul’s as a whole,” Williams said. “It is very hard to leave this school, but it it is the best (decision) for my family.”
There have been no details announced regarding a new coach or religion teacher being hired at this moment.
The announcement of Williams’ retirement, covered by local media, did not tell the entire story, however.
“The two articles I read, while very positive, do not begin to convey the depth of Phil’s contributions to St. Paul’s in so many roles over so many years,” Principal Trevor Watkins wrote in a faculty memo. “While the focus of the press was on Phil’s basketball career, we know that he was and is much more than a basketball coach and the impact he made on his students and us goes way beyond the hardwood. We look forward to celebrating with him the culmination of his St. Paul’s career in the weeks ahead.”
During his time at St. Paul’s, Williams racked up a total 32 years in the classroom, two years as Athletic Director in the 1990s, and 24 years of coaching basketball, with seven years as head coach. He leaves SPS with a 124-90 record, five playoff appearances, 24-2 in district over the past two years, and two district titles.
“Coach Phil is retiring and leaving his legacy at St. Paul’s,” junior point guard Timothy Bedford said.
Not only is the team to lose their head coach, but also four seniors, Harrison Prieto, Jacob Broussard, Skyler Herbet, and Lucas Schmitt. Broussard earned All-State Academic Team honors, Herbet scored 554 points in the last two seasons, and Prieto racked up 1178 points during his whole career.
Despite heavy losses in team members, the team stays confident for the future.
“I feel like next season, we’ll do really good, maybe even better than this year,” Bedford said. “We’ve got some new guys joining the team who will really impress.”
The St. Paul’s Basketball Wolves ended their season with a record of 31-2 and 14-0 in district play after a devastating 71-68 loss to East Ascension in the second round of the playoffs.
“We let our heads get too big going into the game, and they surprised us and came up on top,” Bedford said.
The loss ended the Wolves’ outstanding year which included breaking Coach Gene Bennett’s legendary record of 29 consecutive wins in 1968.