published Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Tony Williams resigns as Rhea County boys' coach

Rhea County coach Tony Williams has resigned from his position as boys' basketball coach.

Williams led the Golden Eagles to a 16-12 record this past season, the school's most successful campaign since they advanced to the state tournament in 2004. In his five seasons, Williams' teams accumulated 47 victories.

This past season, Rhea had victories over state-tournament participant Ooltewah, region quarterfinalist Cleveland and East Ridge, which tied for the District 6-AA regular-season championship and was a region semifinalist.

Williams' decision was mainly about his family.

"I have two daughters that are 7 and 9 that are into athletics," he said. "They've taken a liking to basketball, and I've been working with their elementary school teams. It's just too hard to burn the candle at both ends, so I prayed about it and decided to step down and focus on my family.

"I'll have other opportunities to coach; I only have one opportunity to be a dad."

Rhea will lose four key contributors from this season's ballclub -- three by graduation, as well as post Josh Coleman, who is transferring to a school in South Carolina. Jalen Smith and Nick McWherter, the team's two leading scorers this past season, will return for their senior seasons.

"For Rhea County to take the next step, it was going to take work to be respectable," Williams said. "It was a fun experience. We took our lumps along the way, but I knew that for the program to continue to move forward, it was going to take even more time than what I could give.

"I want to thank the Rhea County administration for giving me the opportunity to mentor young student-athletes in this community."

Williams will continue to teach in the Rhea County school system and said he will go "wherever the school needs me to go to bring in a qualified new coach to lead this program."

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