Rusty Price smiles and says people have been congratulating him on his retirement for the past five years.
The longtime Broadmoor High football coach isn’t retired, but his role is changing.
Price, 66, and veteran assistant Elliott Wilkins will serve as co-head coaches for 2014.
Instead of being on the sidelines, Price, who also serves as the school’s athletic director, will call offensive plays from the press box this fall. Price has been the Bucs’ head coach for the past 29 seasons.
“It’s a family thing, and the one thing I’m real comfortable with is the fact that (Wilkins) is one guy I can trust with everything,” Price said.
“You know, I’m Broadmoor from the get-go and so is he. I think he deserves the opportunity. I wouldn’t just allow anybody to come in and try to run it without knowing they would do what is right.
“The whole group of them (coaches) I trust completely. I don’t think we’ll miss a beat because we’ve worked so well together in the past.”
It will be the first head coaching job for Wilkins, 42, a 1990 BHS graduate who has been an assistant coach at the school for the past 17 years, including serving as offensive coordinator last fall.
The Bucs have also hired another alum, Mike Woods, to be head baseball coach-assistant football coach.
Broadmoor finished 4-6 last fall in its return to Class 5A after spending a decade in 4A.
“It’s an opportunity for me to learn to be a head coach,” Wilkins said. “I played here, it’s the only place I’ve ever coached and I’ve always been around doing stuff.
“I’ve had people come up to me and ask whether coach Price is retiring. And I tell them no. But he came to me and talked to me in the spring about doing this. Then we went to talk to the principal (Shalonda Simoneaux) to see if she was on board with it. And she was.
“Things really won’t change on a day-to-day basis that much. I’ll be making the calls from the sideline, but I’ll have coach Price and the other coaches to lean on. I think it’s going to be good.”
Price opens his iPhone and scrolls to two photos taken after he was involved in a bicycle-car crash two years ago. One shows the windshield of the car Price hit with his body; the other shows his injuries two days later.
Though he suffered no broken bones, Price has suffered with back pain that makes standing for long periods of time and walking an issue, despite having several procedures done to relieve pain. He now uses a motorized scooter to get around at practice.
“I still cover the whole area,” Price said. “The kids are actually used to me being on it (scooter).
“I don’t want the kids to get cheated at all, and I think the head coach should be on the field. Elliott will do a super job with game management. He’s the only person who thinks like I do. And I think like he does.”
Price said Wilkins and defensive coordinator Chris Bland also have taken over managing some of the BHS’ weight-training duties.
“I guess it’s time,” Price said. “This is the first year in 40 years I haven’t had complete control of the weight room. They’ve let me take it a little easier.”
Price, Wilkins and Simoneaux said the school faces the same challenges it has faced for decades, including low participation numbers for football and other sports, based on the fact many students are bused in from other areas.
“This is really exciting for me because my first year we had so many things to focus on academically,” Simoneaux said. “Coach Price is a great mentor and took care of everything for me.
“This year we really want to bring back the energy to our athletic program. I got in my mind that we needed to get Broadmoor (people).
“We needed to get Buccaneers back here. Mike Woods (new baseball coach) is a Buccaneer. Elliott is a Buccaneer, and he’s committed. I think it’s a good transition. We want people to see that we’re committed to the athletic program.”