Former Bradwell Institute football player Will Pettis made a name for himself playing for the Dallas Desperados in the Arena Football League.
Now he’s taking his skills to the coaching ranks.
Pettis, a four-time member of the AFL’s All-Ironman team, three-time member of the All-Arena team and the 2007 Ironman of the Year during his six years as a Desperados wide receiver and defensive back, now is an assistant coach for the Dallas Vigilantes.
The Vigilantes — formerly the Desperados — came about after the AFL shut down due to the economy in 2009.
When the league resumed play in 2010, Pettis’ former Desperados quarterback and teammate Clint Dolezel was named the Vigilantes’ head coach. After a rough first season in which the Vigilantes went 3-13, the team hired Pettis as its wide receivers/jack linebackers coach.
This season, the Vigilantes finished 9-5 and made it to the playoffs, where they will face the Chicago Rush in the first round July 29.
Pettis said it’s not easy being on the sidelines.
“The most difficult thing about the transition is seeing guys screw up and knowing I could help right the ship,” he said.
That’s not a hard sentiment to understand. As a receiver, Pettis had 639 career receptions for 6,516 yards and 142 touchdowns. As a defender, he had 187 solo tackles, 23 assists, 21 interceptions for 237 yards and a touchdown. And on special teams, Pettis had 378 returns for 7,335 yards and 15 during his Desperados career.
Last year, Pettis was inducted into the Liberty County Athletic Hall of Fame.
But he said he enjoys coaching alongside his former teammate.
“As far as Clint, it’s just like playing with him ... we are on the same page,” he said. “Coaching helps me gain a different perspective and insight because I get feedback from the players as to what works for them. The biggest thing I miss is playing the game and having a great time doing so.”
McRae does it again
Former Liberty County High School basketball star Jordan McRae lit up the scoreboard again, hitting a game-high 55 points Monday. McRae led his News Sentinel team to a 135-113 win over Larry Smith Insurance in the Pilot Rocky Top summer league. The win secured the Sentinel team a spot in Wednesday’s RTL title game, where McRae scored 36 points to set a single-season league record averaging 45.7 points per game. McRae’s News Sentinel team lost to Choice Spine, 128-105, in the championship game.