Longtime Owatonna football coach Jeff Williams will lead the Huskies on to the field at US Bank Stadium Saturday in the Class 5A Prep Bowl finals. He will also be back at The Bank on December 16 during a Vikings' game for recognition as the team's "Don Shula Coach of the Year" award winner.

A Vikings' representative made the announcement to Williams and the Huskies before practice at the Dundas dome Tuesday. The team is preparing to face St. Thomas Academy at 4 pm Saturday for the 5A title with coverage on Kat Kountry 105 FM and the Kat Kountry app. The award comes with a trip to the Pro Bowl in Orlando along with a player from the high school team.

Williams, in his 23rd year as Owatonna's head coach, called the award "a great honor" and was quick to credit the entire coaching staff, "I think it's a reflection of the whole staff that we've got. What a great bunch of coaches that we have. We've been together for 25 years...it's awesome to be a part of."

The other Owatonna coaches listed in the team's game-day program include Marc Achterkirch, Delles Solie, Doug Wanous, Jerry Eggermont, Dean Walters, Marc Wiese, Matt Skala, Steve Noasconi, Nate Skala, Mark Clauson, Neil Thompson, Kevin Stelter, Steve Zappa, Kyle Melcher, Seth Muir, David Lassahn, Adam Woitalla and Eric Johnson.

Williams commented on what he enjoys about coaching at the high school level, "Every year you get a new bunch of kids. You get new challenges...It's never the same. It's the same group of coaches that have to attack different programs every year with different kids. It keeps it continually fresh."

Williams enters the state title game with a 172-71 career record. He was named the Class 5A coach of the year in 2013 and 2017 after state titles each time and was the MN Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2013. He is a five-time Big Nine coach of the year and six-time Section 1 winner. He is also the 2018 Big Southeast, Red Division recipient. Williams is a Rochester John Marshall graduate and attended Notre Dame, Winona State University and College of St. Scholastica.

He began his coaching career as a JM assistant in 1987. He came to Owatonna as an assistant in 1989 and became the head coach in 1996, succeeding Jerry Peterson.

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