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W&L hires former Eagle Yates as football coach
BY TAFT COGHILL JR.
Washington & Lee High School has reached to its past to help build its future, hiring former player Antron Yates as its new head football coach.
Yates replaces his ex-coach, Malcolm Lewis, who resigned last month after 17 seasons. Lewis stayed on at W&L as the athletic director and he was impressed by Yates, who was a member of his first-ever team.
Yates has been an assistant coach for the past nine years, including a recent stint at King George.
“Antron is a W&L guy, and he brings the energy, the exuberance that is so vital in motivating today’s players,” Lewis said. “I know he’ll put in the time, make strong connections with our kids and be a great role model.”
Yates, 33, graduated from W&L in 1996. He was a two-year starter at both linebacker and center. He went on to play at Bridgewater College, where he was a member of the 2001 team that played for the Division III national championship.
He began his coaching career at King George, but he has also been on staffs at C.D. Hylton and Freedom in Prince William County.
“We feel confident he has seen football administered well,” Lewis said.
Yates has served as the coordinator on both sides of the ball, and he’s directed special teams, too.
He said his teams will be “hard-nosed.” He said he’ll most likely use the spread offense, but he won’t know for sure until he’s able to watch his personnel up close. The Eagles must replace quarterback Josh Fones and running back Marquis James. They also graduated nine of 11 starters on defense.
“The cornerstone of my program will be hard work,” Yates said. “The success will come from the student-athletes that can make the commitment to the program in the classroom, at home, in the weight room and on the field.”
Lewis departed the sidelines as the longest-tenured and most successful coach in W&L’s history. He finished with a 123–58 record. The Eagles won the 2001 Group A, Division 2 state title. They captured Region A championships in 2002, ’04 and ’05.
They were 10–2 in 2011 as they won the Northern Neck District championship.
“I’m coming into a different situation,” Yates said. “I’m not coming in trying to revitalize a program. I’m trying to maintain a high standard.”
Yates said he’s excited to have Lewis around as a resource. He said he’ll lean on the former coach for advice whenever he can.
“A lot of young coaches have to take a bad job,” Yates said. “But I’ve been blessed to have a good job with good resources. It’s an awesome situation.”
Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526