Teddy Williams named ‘honorary guest coach’

By Steve Williams

There’s no telling how many Halls High School football players Teddy Williams coached over the years.

Oh, he didn’t coach them when they were actually playing on the high school team. But he played a big part in introducing them to the sport and was there season after season on Friday nights supporting them.

For almost 30 years, Williams coached the 9-year-old Grasscutter team in Halls’ youth football program.

Last week, at Halls High’s spring scrimmage against Stone Memorial, Teddy was introduced and recognized as “honorary guest coach” for the contest by Jeremy Bosken, a nice gesture by the Red Devils’ new head coach.

“He’s been at all the practices and he’s been teaching me the history of Halls,” said Bosken after the scrimmage, the last of the Red Devils’ nine spring practice sessions.

“He’s a guy who loves Halls football. He was our guest coach tonight. He got to talk to the team beforehand. He was in Coach Gibby’s and Coach Brown’s ear just kind of telling them what he wanted.

“We just want him around the program. We want good quality men around here and we want him to feel like he’s part of the team.”

Williams (no relation to me) started coaching youth football in 1987. That was the same season I started coaching the 7 and 8-year-old Grasshoppers at Inskip-Norwood. I coached seven seasons, including the 9-year-old Grasscutter team the last two years before I left coaching and started officiating TSSAA football. Ted’s team and mine would even scrimmage each other in the preseason.

I spoke with Teddy while I was at the Halls scrimmage last week taking photos for the Focus.

“A lot of my players would end up playing the same position on the high school team that they had played for me,” said Teddy. “One season, the high school team’s entire offensive backfield was made up of the same guys who were my offensive backs as 9-year-olds.”

“That’s cool,” said Coach Bosken when I relayed that fact to him later.

Halls had a strong youth football program for years and stability in its coaching ranks contributed to it. Williams, of course, was a huge part of that stability.

Bosken too knows a good feeder program plays a part in the total success of a high school football program.

“It’s guys like Teddy that make this community so great,” he said. “We want to make sure they are still part of the program.”

Caleb Leonard, who is beginning his fourth year as Halls’ offensive line coach, played for Williams about 20 years ago. Because of his weight, Caleb said he always had to play in the next age group up, so he was eight when he played center on Williams’ 9-year-old team.

“My dad was actually an assistant coach,” recalled Leonard, a 2009 Halls High grad. “Teddy’s been influential in my entire life. He came to my high school graduation party.

“He’s coached at the community park for decades and he’s influenced hundreds of kids who have grown into men in the Halls community.”

Caleb still remembers how much Teddy cared about his players.

“It’s very obvious he cares for every kid he’s ever coached,” said Leonard. “He came and ate lunch with us during football season when we were at the elementary school. He didn’t even talk about football, just talked about school and talked about our friends at school and actually took an interest in our lives. He did that probably for every single kid he coached.”

Williams is retired and not coaching youth football anymore, but you’ll still find him near the action in Red Nation on Friday nights.

“He’s coaching the coaches right now,” said Bosken with a chuckle. “He’s keeping us on our toes.”

Some guys play golf, Teddy told me during last week’s scrimmage. He said he would rather be right where he was – on the football field.

“We appreciate him coming out,” said Coach Bosken. “It’s been fun.”

Teddy will be back, too. He’s always around during football season.