Whittell grad Patton named Warriors football coach
Doug Patton hadn’t returned to his alma mater George Whittell High School for several years after he graduated in 1996.
There was no reason, he just didn’t see the point.
But one fall day about five years ago on his lunch break, out of the blue, he went back.
He watched football practice while David Housel was the head coach. After their introduction, Housel asked Patton if he’d like to help with the program.
Patton accepted and a coach was born.
“The first couple of weeks it was for Whittell football because I knew they were having problems,” Patton said. “But once I got to know the guys, it was more about them. Helping them through some life struggles that they might have. I’ve been through them.”
Patton the next season took over as defensive coordinator for new head coach Phil Bryant. And after four years patrolling the sideline leading the Warriors defense, Patton has been named Whittell’s new head coach after Bryant stepped down a few of months ago.
“I was a little worried about outside candidates but as far as people knowing the team, there’s nobody that knows them better than me and the other coaches,” Patton said, and added he is keeping the current staff of assistants — Brian Moore, Jeremy Branham and Ian Allen. “I kinda feel like George Siefert after Bill Walsh retired. Phil’s a hard act to follow, but we have a good blueprint. We’ve all been there. I feel like we can carry on with what Phil accomplished.”
Before Bryant, the Warrior football program didn’t win many games. In 10 seasons before Bryant became head coach, the Warriors won 20 games. In Bryant’s four years leading the program, Whittell won 38 games and lost just seven times. His teams went to the state playoffs every season, reaching the semifinals twice and the championship once.
“It wasn’t an automatic that Doug would be the next head coach,” said Bryant, the varsity boy’s basketball coach and school’s athletic director. “He had to be the best candidate with the best credentials and in the best position to keep Whittell football at the level it has recaptured the past few years. Doug has the background and the experience to do that. He has coached here for the past five or six years and knows what it takes to get to the top and stay at the top.”
Patton knows good football. He was All-State as a safety his senior year at Whittell. After graduation, he attended Saddleback Junior College in Mission Viejo, California where he played safety and helped win a national championship.
He came back home to the South Shore following college, got a job, got married and now has two “beautiful” girls, Mallori, 9, and Harper, 11, with whom he spends most of his free time. With two growing girls who participate in softball, on a team he coaches, and gymnastics, and now running a high school football program, free time will be a luxury.
But he says he’s up for the task. He’s learned the last four years from a coaching legend and will continue to get tips and advice from Bryant.
“He’s mentored and helped me through a couple of seasons, with what to look at, what to key on,” Patton said. “And coaching against him in practice like I had to do five days a week, you learn a lot. He’s still the go to guy and you can’t learn from a better person. That first year, he decided to keep us, the staff, and that said a lot. I owe him a lot for believing in me and the other coaches. I’m gonna go through him as long as he’ll listen.”
Patton is not inheriting a rebuilding program, at least not yet. He will have several weapons at his disposal when the Warriors break in their brand new stadium.
He has the returning offensive MVP in quarterback Isaiah Womack and all-league first teamers Dalton Warswick and Gunnar Barnwell and versatile athlete Trent Dingman.
“It was the perfect time for me to step down with a strong group of returning players like Isaiah, Dalton, Gunnar and Trent to name a few,” Bryant said. “I will miss coaching these guys in their senior year but they will be in good hands and I am confident in their abilities and the abilities of the staff Doug will have. I am excited at the thought of seeing Doug and the kids taking the field next season. He’s retaining the assistants. A great staff that knows what it takes. They are good men and good coaches.”
“Our coaches identify with our players,” Patton said. “I remember vividly my coaches, lessons they taught me and they helped me through some hard times. I want to be that guy. I feel like I’m ready to take the next step. I’m excited to embrace that challenge. If I can improve on it in anyway, I’m gonna try.”