Will Babb will go where God directs him next.
Shortly after his 10th season coaching Peoria High School ended in November, he was planning to return for his 11th leading his alma mater.
But he took more time and prayer on the decision, and on Jan. 14 formally announced he was stepping down.
"Every single year you sit down and reflect on the season and everything about coaching," Babb said. "I thought I wanted to do it again. But I had to pray about it. It really felt like I was making myself want to do something I shouldn't. It's time to do something different. It's on my heart."
Later that day, the Peoria Panthers FB Twitter account announced defensive coordinator Jason Golden as the team's interim coach. He will lead offseason workouts while the school conducts interviews with coaching candidates.
In Old Town Peoria, Will Babb is known first and foremost as the quarterback of the Panthers' 1986 and 1987 4A state champions, the first teams to bring home the trophy for the proud program in nearly 60 years.
He was the head coach of a young Sunrise Mountain program from 2003-2009, leading the Mustangs to their second playoff win in 2005.
He returned to Peoria as offensive coordinator under his head coach, Doug Clapp, in 2010. In early 2012 Clapp resigned while under investigation for alleged misuse of the team's fundraising money.
Babb stepped in and coached a 4-6 team in 2012 under difficult circurstances. Peoria's 2013 season would be every bit as magical as 2012 was trying.
Babb led the Panthers to a 10-0 regular season, the program's first since 2000. Division III (basically today's 4A) runner up Queen Creek stopped the undefeated season in the quarterfinals.
That began a string of playoff appearances for Babb's teams, seven in eight seasons. Peoria won playoff games in 2016, 2017 and 2019.
Fellow Peoria High teachers nominated Babb and he received a 2021 Peoria Independent Hometown Hero award in the coach/mentor category.
He said his decision to stop coaching does not, necessarily, mean he will step back from his job as a guidance counselor on campus.
He started teaching at Peoria in 1993 and has been a guidance counselor since 2001. Babb and the rest of the guidance department partners with Hart Pantry to give out food to local families in need, as well as sponsors the campus Fellowship of Christian Athletes Club.
What is next for Babb? Prayer and guidance for what's next for Him and his family.
"I really haven't thought about it," Babb said the night of Jan. 14. "Going through the whole process you have to tell people you care about. I was talking to my sister and she was said, 'sometimes you have to chase the bear.'"
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here