ZILLAH Zillah High School has been unbeaten in league five consecutive years and been to the state 1A football playoffs six years in row.
Now, Athletic Director Rock Winters has the task of replacing the coach who was responsible for all of that success.
Interest is high, Winters said, and he hopes to have his new coach next week.
After six years at the helm, Tim Strother, a former player at Zillah, has stepped down in favor of advancing his career in school administration. He has taken the positions of assistant principal and athletic director at the Wapato Middle School.
Winters said it was tough to see Strother go, but he and the administration knew Strother was looking to move up the administrative ladder.
What made this move tough for many is that it came late in the hiring season. Strother learned of the opening at Wapato not long before he took it.
Strother is not only leaving Zillah. He is leaving coaching after many years on the field and on the sidelines.
“It’s going to be tough,” he said. “I enjoyed that time, but it’s time to move on. I owe it to myself.”
During Strother’s time, Zillah played I-formation and spread formation football. He said the players are used to multiple formations and changing sets. The next coach will probably not surprise them.
Strother and Winters said there has been keen interest in the vacant coach position from around the valley and the state.
Winters said the school is not necessarily looking for a coach who will copy Strother. Winters himself took the Leopards to the state title game as a wishbone team.
Winters said the administration expects to start interviews next, but he doesn’t know yet who will be invited.
Winters said he’s had several inquiries from coaches, including some names prep football fans would recognize. He’s not sure though if they’ve all filed applications.
“We’ve got good kids and a good program,” Winters said. “We’re looking for the best coach possible.”
Strother believes one of his assistants has applied.
The challenge for the new coach be replacing last year’s quarterback and top receiver.
But the new coach will have five returning starters on offense and defense, Strother said. There are several more regulars who were not starters last year.
“We lost a pretty strong senior class, but we had a lot of underclassmen who played,” Strother said.
“This year’s players are a group you’d like to coach.”