The Wheaton High School football program has a new coach.
Veteran coach Ernie Williams was hired Thursday, according to Athletic Director Maura Ryan.
“He has a lot of experience and we have a good feeling about what he can do with our program,” Ryan said. “We have the potential to do better with the schedule we have and I think Ernie is the guy. We have to keep our students involved and motivated and learn the fundamentals of football. Ernie comes in as a great motivator and teacher.”
"There is some serious opportunity for success here," said Williams, who plans to install a multiple wing-t offense and hopes to run a 4-3 defensive scheme, but the philosophy will be dependent on the assistants hired. "The very first thing I need to do is get the kids to believe they can win. They have to buy in first and foremost. ... We went 7-3 at Blake after going 1-9 the year before. It can be an instant turn around."
Williams takes over from Joe Ortega, who resigned in December after compiling a 9-21 record over three seasons. The Knights have struggled recently; winning just 11 games since the beginning of the 2007 campaign, but success is not foreign to the program. The team was a Montgomery County power in the mid-1990s and won the 1996 Class 2A state championship under the direction of Lee Branthover, who went 91-53 during a 14-year tenure.
Williams previously coached at Paint Branch from 2003-2006 and compiled a 19-21 mark. He also was coach of Winston Churchill during the 2001-02 campaigns and went 5-13.
Last fall, he was the defensive coordinator and linebackers and quarterbacks coach at James H. Blake and helped the Bengals to a 7-3 mark, its best finish in school history.
Wheaton alumnus Michael Kurtz, who played at Montgomery College, was also recently named the Knights new varsity baseball coach.