Greg Willis couldn't resist the chance to coach in a town that felt so much like home.
That's ultimately what led Willis to leave Harrah this summer to become the new football coach at Purcell.
“I was attracted to the tradition that Purcell has,” Willis said. “I grew up in Hobart, another traditional football town, so I know what that's like. I felt that (Purcell) was a really good opportunity to take with it being a big high school football town.”
The Dragons, currently in Class 3A, have made the playoffs 10 of the last 12 seasons.
“It's obvious to see the tradition with that sort of recent success,” Willis said. “I have an opportunity now to see if I can enhance that tradition.”
Willis has spent the last six years at Harrah, compiling a record of 27-35. The Panthers went 1-9 in Class 4A last season after making back-to-back playoff appearances.
“The experience at Harrah was awesome,” Willis said. “I had a chance to work with some really great coaches there, and every year things got better. Last year we had some bad luck, but in this business that happens.”
Willis' Harrah squads were known for their power running game, a philosophy he used because it fit what his players did best.
Willis plans to continue letting the talents of his players dictate that decision.
“I've got a system I'm going to bring with me,” Willis said. “I feel you have to look at the type of guys you have to decide what you need do.”
Since being hired in early June, Willis hasn't had a chance to work with his team yet. He'll get his first chance during a weeklong team camp in July.
“We'll use that time to install some things,” Willis said. “After we evaluate the personnel we have, and get an idea of what we feel we can be successful at, then we'll utilize our system to do those things.”
While Willis admits leaving Harrah wasn't easy, the chance to become an athletic director at Purcell was another key factor in his decision.
“I was not upset with Harrah at all,” Willis said. “I loved my time there. This is just a professional decision for me. It's an opportunity to gain more responsibility as an athletic director in addition to being a football coach. Career wise I felt that was a move I needed to make for me and my family.”