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Van Horn's Harris can't pass up chance with alma mater

Falcons football head coach leaving Van Horn to take job at Raytown South

By Bill Althaus
William Harris is leaving as Van Horn football head coach to become the head coach at his alma mater, Raytown South.

The rumors began filtering through the high school football circuit early this week.

And yes, they are true.

Van Horn football coach William Harris, who enjoyed a great deal of success and maintained the excellence that Jeff Tolbert established, is leaving the program to become head coach at his alma mater, Raytown South.

Harris has been the Falcons’ head coach the past five seasons after replacing Tolbert, the first head coach when Van Horn joined the Independence School District back in 2009.

Harris was 22-30 in his five seasons with the Falcons, including 17-15 the last three seasons.

“We’re going to miss him, both professionally and personally,” Van Horn activities director Chris Corrie said. “He has meant so much to our school and our football program the past five years. But he has the chance to return to his alma mater and we’re all happy for him – but we will miss him.”

Harris, who was an outside linebacker and defensive end when Kelly Donohoe was the head coach at Raytown South, will replace head coach and activities director Nick Adkins, who is pursuing administrative responsibilities.

“I keep my eye on South, and I heard that Coach Adkins was interested in going the administrative route, so I looked into the situation a while back,” said Harris, the coach of the Missouri all-star team in the 2019 Greater Kansas City Football Coaches Association Missouri vs. Kansas Classic.

“I wasn’t looking to leave Van Horn, I love it here, but I always thought that if I had the opportunity to return to South, I’d have to look into it. I met with Dr. (Kevin) Overfelt (the Raytown South principal) and some other administrators and we had a good talk.

“Last week, Nick called me and asked to come back to the school for another interview and Friday I was offered the job.”

Wednesday, he had a Zoom meeting with his players, telling them he was leaving Van Horn to take the new position with the Cardinals football program.

“Man, that was tough – one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do as a coach,” Harris admitted. “I called a bunch of coaching friends and asked them how you go about it. They just said, ‘You just do it.’ But the guys understood, and they’re happy for me.”

Sean Mitchell, the Falcons’ senior quarterback who has committed to NCAA Division II William Jewell College, said the move is bittersweet.

“I’m so happy for Coach Harris because he’s going back home, and he deserves that,” Mitchell said. “But it’s bittersweet, too, because he helped make me the man and the player I am today.

“And I feel bad for the guys who won’t be under his leadership and guidance. He helped me become a better player and a better man. I don’t get a college scholarship without Coach Harris, and I will always be thankful to him for all he has done for me and our football program.”