Wylie Pirate football under the Friday night lights will have a different look next season.
After 14 years, Wylie High School head coach Bill Howard announced his retirement effective the end of the school year.
“The program is bigger than me, it’s about the Wylie community, AHMO and all the things that we believe in,” he said.
The things that he’s going to miss the most are the coaches and the kids.
“It’s all about the relationships. We are family and will probably always be family,” Howard said.
Stepping in to assume the role is long-time assistant coach and defensive coordinator Jimmy Carter.
He will take over as the campus coordinator next school year.
“I am unbelievably honored and incredible proud to take over the Wylie Pirate Football program,” Carter said in a Wylie ISD press release. “Wylie is a special place, and coach Howard has provided us with the recipe for our young men to be successful on and off the field. It is a true privilege to follow in his footsteps and continue the tradition of Wylie Pirate Football. AHMO.”
Howard said he appreciates Superintendent David Vinson, WHS Principal Virdie Montgomery and the school board for getting Jimmy in line to be the next head coach.
According to Howard having a new head coach in place during the offseason is a good thing.
“The offseason is the most important time. The one thing that’s most important program to a program is the security of knowing you have a leader in place,” he said. “Now they know that they have somebody else to lean on.”
Carter was an assistant under Howard the past 14 years. He started with WISD in 1998 at what was then Wylie Junior High. He moved to Wylie High in 2000 as a science teacher and coach.
Before returning to the high school in 2006, he coached in Springdale, Ark. and at Newman Smith High School in Carrollton.
Currently, he’s a special education teacher, in addition to his coaching duties.
Howard was the second longest tenured coach in school history, just behind Jerry Shaffer.
Shaffer coached 15 years and led the Pirates to the Class 2A state title in 1977 in a 22-14 win over Bellville.
Howard, along with former athletic director Mark Ball, took over the Wylie High program before the start of the 2006 season.
The first thing they were faced with was changing the mindset of what was expected on and off the field.
“A lot of people just wanted to be the best in Wylie. It took a while, because we just don’t want to be the best in Wylie, but the best in the state and the nation,” Howard said.
In that first season the Pirates went 3-7, 5-6 the following year and finished 13-3 with a trip to the state title game, where they fell 17-3 to Katy in Class 5A Div. II in 2008.
They dropped back down to 3-7 in 2009 and returned to the state semifinals in 2010, which ended with a 25-20 loss to Denton Ryan in 4A Div. II.
Howard said the opening of Wylie East was tough on AHMO the following season.
They finished 4-6.
Moving up and down in classifications was also tough on the Pirates.
After that, Howard guided the Pirates to the playoffs eight times, with 66 wins and 55 losses.
This past season the Pirates finished as champions of District 10-6A at 6-1 and ended up 6-5 overall. They were named the Coaching Staff of the Year.
They lost in the 6A Div. II Region II bi-district round to Prosper 24-0 at Wylie ISD Stadium.
“The losses hurt a lot more and he would have liked to win a couple more playoff games, our goal around here is not just to make the playoffs, but to go several rounds deep.
He didn’t know for sure it was going to be his final season, but he knew it could be.
In the end he knew it was the right time to retire.
“It will be a little different. This is the right time in my life to step down. It’s time to start a new chapter in my life,” Howard said. “I’ll put all my heart and soul into what ever I decide to do.”
Howard finished with a career record of 90-75 and 17-10 in the playoffs over 14 years. He’s been employed by WISD for the last 24 years.
He contributes his success as a head coach to the great assistant coaches and players that came through the program.
“I feel like we have always done more with less and our kids have always overachieved. I’m proud of that,” Howard said. “That comes with having really good assistant coaches and kids that are winners.”
For the full story, see the Feb. 19 issue or subscribe online.
By David Jenkins • [email protected]