While there will be subtle changes in both player personnel and scheme for the Williams High football team when it kicks off the season against Paradise on Aug. 23, the most notable difference will be that for the first time in more than a decade, Dan McDonald will not be at the helm of the Yellowjackets.
McDonald, after 13 seasons on the sideline, has passed the torch to Jeff Lemus, a Jackets’ assistant last season, who comes with a solid coaching pedigree that spans 14 years.
A native of the Antelope/Elverta area in Sacramento, Lemus started as a player in the youth football ranks then continued as a linebacker and running back at Center High School under coaches Matt Chamberlain and Digol J’Beily.
After graduating from Sacramento State with a degree in social science, Lemus returned to Center to begin his coaching career, then put in stints as an assistant at Rio Americano, Inderkum and River Valley in an effort to learn as much as possible before settling in Williams last year.
Hired as an alternative education and history teacher, Lemus jumped right in coaching varsity basketball and baseball for the Yellowjackets as well.
Lemus plans to continue coaching all three sports, but its something he says he couldn’t do without the full support of his wife, Kara, a teacher and coach in her own right.
“Having been a coach she understands and her support allows me to do it year round and for that I am very thankful,” Lemus said.
Lemus has always intended to coach, remaining mindful of those who have helped him along the way and striving to pay it forward.
“I have always wanted to be a head coach to impact players in the same positive manner my coaches had on me, both on campus and on the field. My varsity offensive coordinator and current Center head coach Digol J’beily was an influence on both my teaching and coaching career, while Coach McDonald has been more influential in my coaching career than anyone, because what he taught me has prepared me to be a head coach,” Lemus said.
So when the lights come on Friday night’s this season and the new era of Yellowjacket football gets underway, Lemus will be exactly where he wants to be.
“Williams is by far my favorite out of all the places that I have coached and taught. I like our school atmosphere, our kids, and our staff. I plan on teaching and coaching at Williams for the rest of my career,” he said.