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It took less than a week for West Bladen High School to hire its new football coach and the man was already with the team.

Stanley Williams, who was the associate head coach and defensive coordinator last season, was named the Knights’ head coach, it was announced in a news release from Bladen County Schools late Monday night.

“It is truly an honor. I am very thankful that my athletic director and administrative staff trust me to lead the West Bladen football program in the upcoming years,” Williams said. “The atmosphere at the Castle is phenomenal. Everyone here is like family.”

Williams replaces Jon Sherman, who is leaving after two seasons to become the head coach at Gray’s Creek High School in Cumberland County.

West Bladen was 0-6 in the COVID-shortened spring season and 2-8 in Sherman’s first year. The Knights are 29-94 since 2010, according to records at MaxPreps, and last reached the playoffs in 2015. The school’s last winning record was 6-5 in 2014.

Williams has been a defensive coordinator at Westover and Purnell Swett high schools and served as junior varsity head coach at Red Springs and E.E. Smith.

“I’m excited about molding young boys into great men,” Williams said. “I am following the footsteps of some great men and coaches. Joe Salas, Russell Dove, and Jon Sherman are just a few. These men not only taught the game but instilled character in the young men that they coached.

“I see our program over the next few years creating the best game night atmosphere in the county and playing an exciting, disciplined brand of football.”

After graduating from Smithfield-Selma High, where he was a standout center and defensive end, Williams served in the Army Reserves for 16 years. In 2003 he was deployed for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In 2010 he earned his Bachelor of Science K-12 Physical Education degree from Fayetteville State University. He has five children, Ayanna 17, Ashton 16, Ava 8, Mariah 2, and Landon 1. Williams and LeJacquelyn Artis, the head swim and tennis Coach at Hoke County High, reside in Cumberland County.

“Obviously, we are sad to see Coach Sherman leave, but are excited for him and his family,” said Travis Pait, West Bladen athletic director. “We interviewed Coach Williams two years ago and were unbelievably impressed with him as a man and as a football coach. We were thrilled to have him come on staff last year and we are elated to have him lead our program into the future. We have laid a foundation for success over the last two years and feel like the program could not be put into more capable hands.

“Coach Williams is a strong disciplinarian with a passion for the game. Our kids have grown to love him in the role he filled this past year, and I’m sure they will be excited that he is taking over as head coach. His upbeat attitude and toughness are attributes that we hope our players will take from him and definitely characteristics that will serve him well as our new head coach.”

West Bladen Principal Dr. Peggy Hester said, ““From the moment I met Coach Williams, I knew that he would play a critical role in the growth and development of our football program. He is a phenomenal coach and teacher, and both students and staff love him. He is passionate about football and helping student athletes succeed. I believe that he has the knowledge and skills to create a winning program at West.”

Williams said, “Words cannot express the gratitude I have for Dr. Hester believing in me and giving me this opportunity. You couldn’t ask for a better principal. West Bladen hands down has one of the best communities and kids that a coach could ask for.”

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