Lonnie Williams, King have staying power in Class 6A

SHARE Lonnie Williams, King have staying power in Class 6A

So is this it for Lonnie Williams’ coaching career?

Your guess is as good as his.

This is Williams’ 45th season as a head coach, a run that began at now-defunct Forrestville and continued at King when that school opened in 1971. He’s been with the Jaguars ever since and the way things have been going, he’s not necessarily in the mood to leave.

King (7-2) is in the IHSA playoffs for the sixth consecutive season and the eighth time in nine years, drawing a first-round game at Antioch (7-2) at 4 p.m. Saturday. The Jaguars gave Williams his first state playoff win last year in a Class 4A opener against Aurora Central, ending a run of eight straight first-round losses.

“Last year we had Nate Powell, that’s the difference,” Williams said. “He was a great quarterback. He could do a lot of things. The quarterback we’ve got now is decent, but his feet are not as good as Nate’s.”

One of the players who is back from that team is running back Lance Robinson.

“He’s been injured all year, but he can [still] run,” Williams said of Robinson, who has been dealing with a hamstring problem. “He’s not full speed, but he’s better at half-speed than most people.”

Even without Powell and with Robinson at less than 100 percent, the Jaguars have still been tough to beat. Their losses were to 4A power Phillips (8-1) in the game that decided the Illini Land of Lincoln title and to 8A playoff qualifier Joliet West (5-4) by a 35-34 score.

King is coming off an 8-0 shutout of Dunbar and its standout quarterback Demoria Harris in a Public League playoff opener. That followed the recipe for success this season for the Jaguars, who are allowing just 12.9 points a game.

“Our kids individually are not as outstanding as I would like,” Williams said. “But collectively we can play with most people. We just have to play good defense.”

One Jaguar who has been doing that is end Dwight Hunter. “Nobody can block him,” Williams said. “He’s just exceptional. He comes off the ball really well.”

Williams focuses primarily on King’s defense, leaving the offense in the hands of another Public League coaching icon, longtime Robeson coach Roy Curry. Yet another Chicago Public Schools legend, former Julian coach J.W. Smith, is another assistant.

Curry is the reason Williams hasn’t entirely closed the door on coming back for a 46th season in 2015.

“I might stay another year and I might not,” Williams said. “Roy Curry wants to stay another year. … We’re both old, we’ve got nothing else to do. Can’t stay home all the time, we’d go crazy.”

Instead, Williams, Curry and Smith are enjoying the ride as probably the most experienced coaching trio in the state — Williams figures they have about “150 or so” seasons among them.

“I’m just thankful to work with them,” Williams said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Maybe enough fun to convince him to come back.

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