University Academy nearly broke through last season with a win in the MAIS Class A championship game, but now it will have to break in a new coach.
Former defensive coordinator Blair Phillips will be the Lions’ new coach, replacing Vic Williams who served as the coach for the 2013 and 2014 seasons.
Phillips, a product of Bolton and played for the Bears from 1998-2001, is happy to finally get the opportunity to call the shots.
“I’m just excited,” Phillips said. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity and it’s something I worked hard for. It justifies all of the hours that don’t count on the clock. The kids are excited and it’s a program that is fresh. You get to start your own traditions and I think that’s awesome.”
Williams, who went 21-6 in his two seasons at UA with a pair of District 5-A titles, was given an opportunity to stay on the coaching staff, but declined.
UA athletic administrator Marc Kelly stated that the reason to make the coaching move was “not a performance issue”, but more to fit the “needs of the school”.
Phillips will likely have a new staff with him as the Lions jump from Class A to 4A — facing against Parklane, Copiah, Oak Forest and Hillcrest in District 2-AAAA.
“My biggest thing is that we attack every single day and get better, no matter what we are doing,” Phillips said. “Great teams and championship teams are made day-by-day.”
While at Bolton, Phillips was an All-State and a three-time All-District linebacker for the Bears and recorded 109 tackles as a sophomore before singing with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. He later signed with Oregon and latched on with the Dallas Cowboys and New York Jets as an undrafted free agent.
“I dealt with a lot of those kids the whole year and some of them are just finding that out,” Phillips said. “The thing it does, is that now, I have attention and once you get somebody’s attention, you can tell them things and they can be more receptive. It gives me a platform where my opinion is valid. It’s a responsibility and it’s not something that I take lightly.”
The Lions begin the season Aug. 21 at Wildcat Stadium for a home game against Adams Country Christian.