Bill Wiles is glad to be home.
The former Trenton High School head football coach is back for this third stint with the Tigers, taking over for Ben Jacqmein, who went 2-8 in just one season.
“I came here in 2016, and I thought I would be here until I retired,” Wiles said about his second term with the Tigers that ended in a postseason berth. “God had a plan, and it wasn’t time. We went to Georgia, and it was time. So here I am.”
Wiles served as head coach for one season that year before heading to Cook High School in Adel, Georgia, as offensive coordinator. He was also the head coach at Trenton from 1997-2001.
He said this time, it’s different. He’s taking over in a different place.
“This is a good place to coach,” Wiles said. “It’s a great community. I think these people would be more proud of a team that played their butt off, and you did it with honor and class. If you go 2-8 and do it with honor and class, you play hard, you appear like you’ve been coached up a little bit, they’re going to be proud of you.”
But Wiles did clarify to put things in perspective.
“I’m not saying our goal is to go 2-8,” explained Wiles. “Our goal is to be the best we can be.”
Wiles wants to win, but he said they’ve got to clean up the perception a little bit.
“We’re really trying to change the perception of the football program here in terms of representing ourselves in a first-class manner, and not to complicate it any more than that,” Wiles said. “We’re not only coaching football, but we’re building young men that will represent this school, their family and the community, in a positive fashion.”
The numbers are not tremendous (20-21 heading into the Tigers’ preseason game), but he does have a good contingent of players who bring valuable experience and are eager to erase the memories of Trenton’s worst season in 10 years.
“I played for him in 2016, and I’m happy having him back,” said senior Brian Karanja, who will play blocking back and safety this season.
Senior Jacob Morgan, who will play offensive tackle and defensive end, was also a freshman on that 2016 team, which finished 9-2 with a loss to eventual state champion Pahokee in the Class 1A Regional finals.
“He did good last time, and I feel he’s going to do good this time too,” Morgan said. “He believes in us. He’s a good leader, and he knows football.”
Senior wide receiver/cornerback Tyrese Jackson has confidence in Wiles.
“He’s going to push a lot harder than last year, make sure everybody is focused, and lead us to a better record,” Jackson said. “He treats everybody the same and wants everyone to get better every day.”
Wiles has only been on the job for a few weeks, so he said he’s still figuring out who to play where on both sides of the ball.
“We need to give our guys on defense a chance to make some plays and play to their strength,” he said. “Then, offensively, there’s really no question about who we need to get the ball to, so we need to scheme that way. We’re on the right track.”
Trenton, which drops down from 4A and will complete in Class 1A-Region 4 this season, opens up the regular season at home against Class 3A Interlachen on Aug. 23.
Most important position battles: “We don’t have a lot of numbers, so what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to get kids in the right place. We’re not Lowndes High School (Ga.) where you’ve got a true 2-deep on both sides of the ball. It’s not so much position battles as it is making sure we can get our dudes that can ball in the right place.”
Key returnees: Seniors Tyrese Jackson, Jacob Morgan and Brian Karanja; juniors Jordan Fulmer (811 yards rushing & team-leading 70 tackles in 2018), Justin Hammond (OL/DL) and Riley Buck (Athlete).
Key newcomers: Junior center Brent Carlisle (6-foot-3, 200 pounds), sophomore FB/ILB Jamari Chisolm (6-1, 205) and Ocala Trinity Catholic transfer Tyler Perry, who has a chance to win the starting QB job. Wiles: “Tyler can throw the ball, so we’re going to try and throw the ball a little bit. We’ve got to figure out who can catch it. He’s a Trenton kid. He wasn’t here last year, but I have a relationship with him. He grew up with my son. He’s a pleasure to work with.”
Looming camp question: “See if we can go out there Thursday (Kickoff Classic at Jacksonville Christ’s Church Academy) and play with class. Let’s see how we act when adversity strikes. How are we going to play when things get bad? That’s what I want to see.” — Bill Wiles