After needing to find a head football coach with the end of the school year quickly approaching, Whitewright moved fast and didn’t have to go far to find its final choice.
The Tigers went right down the road and hired Blue Ridge head coach Kevin Wiggins after a search that lasted just a week and a half.
Wiggins is familiar with Whitewright since his Blue Ridge squads have played his new school the past three seasons, including this past fall in district play in the latest realignment after Blue Ridge moved back up to Class 3A.
Wiggins replaces Mason Edwards, who stepped down on May 10 after two seasons at Whitewright.
Edwards went 4-15 in his first opportunity to be a head coach after he was elevated from his offensive line coaching duties to replace Joe Williams following the program’s best season in 13 years. The 2016 squad had gone 8-5 — a five-win improvement — and earned the program’s first playoff victory in 12 years as it reached the Class 3A Division II Region II semifinals before a 35-28 loss against Winona.
This past season the Tigers were 2-7 overall due to one of their non-district games being cancelled and 2-4 in the District 9-3A (II) standings with their wins coming over Leonard and Prairiland.
Wiggins leaves Blue Ridge as its all-time winningest coach with a 48-66 record and three playoff trips across 11 seasons after serving four years as an assistant. Only two other coaches in program history have won at least 20 games in their tenures — Reid Pittman is second to Wiggins with 23 victories from 1990-92.
“Fifteen years at a school is a long time,” he said. “The history and tradition of Whitewright has always intrigued me. The time was right for a new challenge. I believe we can win there.”
Wiggins took over a winless program for the 2008 campaign and increased the team’s win total the next three years to an 8-3 mark with a playoff trip in 2010, the school’s first postseason appearance in eight seasons.
After missing the playoffs on a tie-breaker in 2014, Blue Ridge went 10-2 and shared the District 5-2A (I) title with Valley View before an area round loss against region champion Crawford behind an offense which averaged 47.4 points per game.
It was the first time since 1991 that Blue Ridge earned a district title, won a playoff game or reached double digits in victories.
In 2016 the team went 5-5 but missed the playoffs by a game and this past season went 6-5 overall and 4-2 in district action, tying with Chisum for second place but getting the second seed with a tie-breaker before a bi-district loss against Grand Saline. Wiggins has earned three of the program’s 10 playoff berths.
Also in his time at Blue Ridge, the baseball and softball teams were state tournament participants to go with multiple state qualifiers in track, golf and tennis.
“The way we do things and our process is proven. I think we will turn things around,” Wiggins said. “We’re going to teach character every day. We’re going to try to get better every day. And leave it better than we found it.”
He will be trying to break a recent trend as Whitewright hasn’t had a head football coach make it to a third season since Chuck Lipsey’s four-year run from 2003-07. He is the Tigers’ seventh head coach in a 12-year span.
“I think they view what I am bringing with stability. Their recent track record hasn’t been good,” Wiggins said. “When I first got to the area, they were dominating, making deep runs, success at the state track meet.”
Whitewright will remain in a district with Bells, Leonard, Blue Ridge, Paris Chisum, Cooper and Prairiland until the University Interscholastic League’s next realignment in February.
The Tigers are the fifth Grayson County football team to make a head coaching change this off-season, joining Whitesboro, S&S, Collinsville and Bells.