Marianna High School had a surprise announcement during the summer with the resignation of two-year head basketball coach Matt Anderson. It left a void of a significant position to be filed but it didn’t take Principal Hunter Nolen and Athletic Director John Donaldson long to fill that void. Yesterday, junior varsity basketball coach and Bulldog alumnus Rico Williams of Marianna was named head basketball coach.
Williams is a 1993 graduate of Marianna High School, and graduated from Chipola College with his AA degree in 1995. He attended Florida A & M University until 1997 when he took a break from college and started in the workforce. Williams returned to Chipola College to receive in degree in math education, and graduated in 2005.
Williams began as a math teacher in 2007 at Marianna High School and was named junior varsity basketball coach. Williams was as competitive as a coach as he was as a Bulldog player. He worked relentlessly with his teams on skills, team bonding, and drills. The results have proven his efforts were worth his time as his team in 2015-16 went undefeated with an 18-0 record. In back-to-back seasons 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 his teams had only two losses with a 20-2 record.
In an interview with the TIMES, Williams said, “I will be working to represent my city and hopefully getting kids scholarships as well as going to Lakeland. Every coach’s goal is to win a state championship and that doesn’t change, that’s still the same.”
Athletic Director John Donaldson said of Williams, “We are excited about Mr. Williams and the future of MHS basketball. He is a competitor and he knows how to win.”
Principal Hunter Nolen was pleased that the process has come to a conclusion and the team can get down to business, “We are pleased that Mr. Williams applied and that he has accepted the position. He knows the players and coached them along with Coach Anderson (Matt), and the junior varsity he knows really well. We are hopeful for a smooth transition and a winning season. Go Dogs!”
Williams brings a wealth of experience, not only as a coach but as a player. He competed four years at Marianna High School and knows firsthand what it takes to win. He played under coach Neil Keene. In 1992, Williams made headlines when he was an integral part of removing the Chipley ‘jinx’. Marianna was on a four-year losing streak with the game winning shot. With 13 seconds left, Williams rebounded a missed free throw and banked a layup to give the Bulldogs the 79-78 victory, and stunning the Chipley Tigers. Williams said following the game, “It will be a while before it sinks in. We did something that a lot of teams from Marianna couldn’t do.” Williams scored all 10 of his points in the second half of the Chipley game.
Williams had another banner night in December 1992 when he nailed a three-pointer against county-rival Cottondale to put the Bulldogs up 63-60 over the Hornets with 53 seconds left in the third period. The Bulldogs went on to outscore the Hornets 30-11 in the remainder of the game. Just two weeks later, Williams posted 16 points against Malone in the Christmas Tournament. Finishing out the year, December 29, 1992, Williams was again in double figures with 15 points against Mount Dora.
Taking it back a year, Keene knew he had something in Williams for the next year as Williams posted 13 points against Cottondale. Also in 1993, Williams logged in 16 points in an 83-81 four overtime-win against Sneads. In the second game of the season against Malone, Williams proved again that was his court, his team to beat as he led the team with 22 points.
Off the court, Williams is married to Rebekah Williams. They have three children, Justin Williams who is a junior at Marianna High School, Imani Williams who is a sophomore at Marianna High and who will be courtside cheering her dad’s team on to victory, and Corey Williams who will move to Marianna Middle School this year as a sixth grader.