The Bayonne Board of Education has approved a new head football coach for Bayonne High School. Dwayne Williams was hired at the board’s July meeting and is taking over from former head coach Jason Acerra.
In an interview with the Bayonne Community News, Williams talked about what it was like to have a dream come true.
Williams started playing football in Bayonne at age 9, in the Bayonne Recreation league and the Police Athletic League. He continued to play at BHS.
An All-American running back in high school, after graduation he played for the University of Iowa, even making the Rose Bowl and the Peach Bowl. An injury prevented him from playing in the NFL, Williams recalled in a 2018 story by sports columnist Jim Hague.
Williams returned to Bayonne in 1982 after graduating from college, and served as an assistant at BHS under head coach Don Ahern. After four years in Bayonne, Williams served in the same position at Ferris High School in Jersey City.
From Bayonne to Kansas and back
Williams then moved to Kansas, where he was head coach at Highland Park High School. After some time in Kansas, Williams found himself back in the Garden State.
In 1999, Williams was back at BHS. This time he was as an assistant coach under the Bees’ new head coach Tom Bulwith. In 2002, the Bees went to the state championship while Williams was part of the coaching staff.
After a decade at BHS, he left after the 2009 season to coach at Roselle High School. Following only one season at Roselle, Williams again returned to Bayonne, becoming the head coach at Marist High School in 2011.
But Williams returned to Kansas, finding a head coaching job at Schlagle High School in 2014. After turning the program around, four years later he was back in New Jersey again.
Williams became the head coach at Barringer in 2018. After three seasons there, he has now returned to Bayonne to lead the Bees heading into the 2021 season.
Coming ‘full circle’
Williams told the BCN that coaching the Bees was like life coming “full circle.” It was not only his dream, but his mother’s dream.
But his mother Julia could not see the dream come to fruition. During his last season at Barringer, Williams lost his mother to COVID.
Within three weeks, he also lost two sisters and snd his nephew.
According to Williams, the team played only three games last season amid the pandemic. While he thought about taking a break for a year, Williams was inspired to keep coaching after seeing some of his former players graduate in Kansas.
Now, he hopes for a strong season back in his hometown.
Bringing back the ‘Bayonne mentality’
Williams said he wants to bring back the “Bayonne mentality” akin to what Ahern brought as head coach of the Bees.
“We’re Bayonne strong,” he said. “It’s a Bayonne thing.”
Of his coaching staff of 15, 13 are from Bayonne.
“I’m a family-oriented guy,” Williams said. “My coaching staff is basically my family. We grew up together.”
And Williams and his family aim to make a name for the Bees again: “We’re trying to put Bayonne back on the map, and have some fun.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.