By Robert Wilson
Sam Williams is going home. Or at least back to Rankin County.
Williams told his Ridgeland High football team and assistant coaches Tuesday that he was going to take the athletic director and head football coach position at Brandon High, Madison County School District assistant superintendent Ted Poore said.
Williams, a Northwest Rankin High graduate, replaces Tyler Peterson, and leaves Ridgeland after one season. Williams led Ridgeland to an 10-3 record and the Class 5A semifinals behind senior quarterback Zy McDonald, the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Year.
“We hate to lose Sam,” Poore said. “He did a great job here at Ridgeland for one season. He told the team it is a great opportunity and a chance to go home.”
People in Rankin County are very familiar with Williams. Not only was he an outstanding football player at Northwest Rankin and Mississippi State, the 29-year-old Williams had a 27-11 record in three seasons at Pelahatchie, taking the Chiefs to the Class 2A playoffs each year. He was an assistant for five seasons at Northwest Rankin, coaching wide receivers and special teams and was the offensive coordinator for three seasons.
Peterson had a 55-26 record in six seasons at Brandon, but Peterson said the school made a decision to make a change. The Bulldogs were 5-6 this season, Peterson’s only losing season. Brandon is expected to return 15 starters, including junior-to-be offensive lineman Luke Rogers, brother of former Brandon quarterback and Mississippi State freshman school record-setting quarterback Will Rogers. Luke Rogers made the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All Metro Jackson second team. The 55 wins by Brandon over the past six seasons was the fourth most among Class 6A teams. Starkville had 61, Oak Grove 57 and Madison Central 56.
Ridgeland will be looking for its fifth head coach in seven seasons. Before Williams, David White led the Titans to an 8-4 record, the first winning season since 2013. He left to go to Blue Springs (Mo.) High. Before White, Ryan Earnest was the head coach for three seasons. Earnest replaced Kenny Burton, who retired in 2015 after a successful run for 13 seasons at Ridgeland. Burton started in the school’s second year. He guided the Titans to the playoffs seven straight seasons. Burton’s best season was 2010 when Ridgeland went 13-1 and lost to West Point in the 5A semifinals.
Williams matched Burton with a semifinal appearance in his first season. McDonald, who signed with Louisiana-Lafayette, passed for 2,984 yards and 35 touchdowns with only six interceptions and set a school record with 3,883 yards of total offense. The Titans lost to eventual 5A state runner-up West Point 29-22 in the semifinals.