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Williams takes over as new football coach

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent

In 2014, Mike Williams led 33 players at Bellows Free Academy in Fairfax to the Vermont Division 3 crown.

In the title game, the Bullets whacked Otter Valley Union High 42-30, a team that had handed Williams’ champs their only defeat in a 10-1 season.

This fall, with the Division 1 Champlain Valley Union High Redhawks, Williams will have player numbers upwards of 100 from which a varsity and two junior varsity teams will be formed.

After six seasons as BFA’s first head football coach, Williams last week was named to the CVU post, vacated by the retired Jim Provost after seven seasons.

“We certainly will be able to be more flexible given the numbers of athletes we have to work with,” Williams said last week in a telephone interview with the Observer.

He said his coaching philosophy is “to have fun, hold players accountable while demanding they act right, but play hard.”

Williams is meeting with CVU players this week and also working on filling out the roster of assistants. He said the coaching positions first will go to those previous CVU assistants who choose to return.

Of the championship run last season, Williams said, “We were very fortunate in that we had a good group of young men.”

The previous year the Bullets made it to the semifinals, finishing the season with just 14 healthy players.

Williams is the fourth head coach in the 10 years of CVU varsity football. The first coach and a founder of the program was Jay Michaud, now in North Carolina. After two years, Charlie Burnett took over the reins but left after one campaign for the head job at Essex High, where he was teaching. He remains the Head Hornet.

Following Burnett’s departure, Provost took over and led the program in its rise from Division 3 to Division 2 and finally Division 1, making postseason playoffs the last six campaigns.

CVU interim athletic director Pete Coffey said Williams was one of nine applicants,  which was whittled down to two for final interviews. Coffey said some applicants bowed out because there were no teaching positions open along with the coaching job.

Coffey pointed out that Williams impressed the interview committee with his calm demeanor and composure.

Coffey and administrator Dan Shepardson were among the committee members.

Asked about the overall CVU athletic philosophy, Coffey said sports are “student-centered.” Plus, he added, “academics are a big part of what we encourage from all of our athletes.”

Williams will be looking for players to do prep work in the off season.

Speaking of the weight room, Williams noted that, “Titles are won in January. And it not just getting stronger, it is working together with your comrades.”