McDonald’s Williams has blast coaching all-stars

Tribune Chronicle / Joe Simon Coach Dan Williams, left, demonstrates a play to Tyler Srbinovich (13), Lynn Bowden (1) and Tyriq Ellis, right, during a practice for the Jack Arvin All-Star Classic football game. Williams is coaching in the game for the second time — and he’s having fun doing it.

McDONALD — Dan Williams always has fun coaching football, but these days, it’s is a little more fun.

The longtime McDonald High School coach is now leading the Trumbull County team in the Jack Arvin All-Star Classic football game, a matchup between Trumbull and Mahoning/Columbiana county schools that is set for 7 p.m. June 15 at Hubbard Memorial Stadium. This is Williams’ second time as coach, as he led Trumbull to a win in the annual all-star game back in 2010.

Winning is certainly part of the fun, but being able to coach some of the elite athletes in the area is just gratifying.

“It’s always fun to coach some different kids from different schools,” he said. “It’s one thing coaching your own kids, but when you can reach out and coach some of the top athletes in the whole county, it’s a pretty special time.”

On paper, Trumbull has a special team.

It starts with star quarterback/running back/soon-to-be receiver Lynn Bowden, who is joining the University of Kentucky in the fall. The super-quick, elusive, do-it-all Bowden can play any of the three positions, and he can do it well. He is best known for his running skills as he rushed for more than 2,000 yards as a senior, but Williams was just as impressed with his accuracy throwing the football. The overall package of skills has been fun to watch.

“Everybody’s in awe of Lynn Bowden, including the coaching staff,” Williams said with a laugh. “He’s definitely the real deal. He could be a kid that can be playing on Sunday afternoons (in the NFL) eventually if he goes to school and does all the right things. He’s the best talent I’ve seen on the field in person. I’ve watched him on TV quite a bit, on highlights and this and that, but I’ve never seen him live on the field. He’s the best kid I’ve seen in my 20 years of head coaching experience. That says a lot.”

He’s only a piece to the puzzle for Trumbull (albeit, a big piece).

The team also boasts stars such as Lakeview receiver Jatise Garrison, Howland running back Tyriq Ellis, Niles quarterback/running back Tyler Srbinovich, Harding’s Marlin Richardson, Niles receiver Marlon Pearson, Howland linebacker Stephen Baugh, JFK lineman Bruce Johnson — just to name a few.

The group is particularly loaded at the skill positions, which led to Williams scrapping the Wing-T offensive scheme that he has enjoyed so much success with at McDonald for a spread attack. The system — along with the overload of talent — has been just as fun for the players.

“It’s exciting,” said Srbinovich, who played quarterback and running back for Niles. “Playing against a lot of these guys and knowing what kind of talent they have, it’s fun coming together as one team and working together to win a game.

“It’s not like anything else. Those guys are Division I (college football) players that are top notch in the area. It’s fun to see what it’s like to play next to them and see what we we can do when we come together.”

Employing a new offense to a team that isn’t familiar with the terminology in a three-week span would normally be almost impossible, especially when there are only three practices per week. But Williams said the process has been relatively easy, partly because he and his coaching staff are keeping things simple and also because the players are fast learners.

“These are the best of the best in the county, so when you’re implementing an offense, implementing a defense … the kids pick it up real quick,” Williams said. “They’ve got good football IQs — all these kids — which makes it simple to coach a game like this. We’re keeping the offense pretty simple, and the defense rather simple, but still, their football IQs make it easy to improvise and pick up on.”

Maybe the hardest part is piecing it together.

When there are multiple quarterbacks, running backs, receivers, linemen, etc., who all had success at their respective schools, it can be tough to find ways to please everyone. Yet Williams said he hasn’t heard any complaints from players about their roles. In fact, they’ve enjoyed watching others do well.

“Whether they got a guy from some other school or their buddy from their school, these guys just seem to mesh really well,” Williams said. “They’re all having a good time. From past experiences with my players who played in this, that’s what they come away from this game saying: They made new friends. They met new kids from other schools. They develop friendships and relationships from this game, which is important too.”