Blue Ridge’s Thomas steps down, Wills takes over as football coach

After back-to-back state tournament runs including a state championship in 2016, Blue Ridge football coach Tim Thomas is stepping down.


Thomas is retiring after a career in physical education in Greene County and is headed to Georgia to coach at Walton High in Marietta.


“Tim has done an outstanding job leading our football program over the last four years,” said Blue Ridge headmaster Trip Darrin in a release. “He has certainly left his mark on the Blue Ridge School Football Program and is leaving the program in a great place.”


The Barons will now turn to Jimmy Wills, Thomas’ offensive coordinator, who came to Blue Ridge after a stint at William Monroe. The cupboard certainly isn’t bare for Wills, who’ll inherit a team set to be led by senior quarterback Xavier Kane and has a host of young, talented players set to return.


“He has proven himself as a coordinator and we expect Jimmy to continue the winning tradition that has been established at Blue Ridge School,” Darrin said.


Because of the nature of a boarding school where coaches are less likely to see the exact same players and are often asked to incorporate a lot of new faces into the mix each year, Thomas took over a program in 2014 that was drastically different than the one he’d been an assistant coach for under Orlando Patterson during the 2012 state title run. The Barons built quickly, going 2-7 his first season, 7-3 in his second and then 9-2 en route to the state title in 2016. In what became his last campaign in 2017, the Barons were ranked No. 1 the entire season in VISAA’s Division II before falling in the state semifinals to Christchurch 33-31.


The Barons went 25-15 in four seasons under Thomas. But it went beyond that as Thomas focused on character development and helped bolster student athletes like Jhalil Puryear who willingly played out of position for the Barons because it helped them win and stuck with the program despite two tough losing seasons. With Thomas and the Barons’ staff’s help and his own hard work, Puryear still managed to find an opportunity at the next level, joining Hampton’s program as a defensive lineman.


“Tim’s leadership and outstanding character will be hard to replace,” said athletic director Bryan Puckett.  “Blue Ridge School has been fortunate to have a leader with Tim’s experience and knowledge in charge of the football program for the past four years.”