Clay Battelle, Local Sports, Sports

Ryan Wilson steps down as Clay-Battelle football coach after 29 years leading Cee-Bees

BLACKSVILLE — After 29 years at the helm of the Clay-Battelle High School football program, coach Ryan Wilson announced his retirement Tuesday morning.

“I would like to thank the C-B administration for giving me the opportunity and supporting me as the head coach these past years,” Wilson said in a statement. “Assistant coaches, words cannot express how much I’ve appreciated everything you’ve done for me, the players, and football program. For all the players, you’ve been my family and it has been a pleasure to have been a part of your life, watching you grow as people and as adults.”

Wilson compiled a 187-112-1 record in 300 games over his 29-year tenure as head coach. He helped lead the Cee-Bees to 13 playoff appearances, including a trip to the state semifinals in 2014. That was also the best season in C-B football history, with an 11-2 record. Wilson earned five Mason-Dixon conference championships and helped lead the North over the South in the 2016 version of the annual North/South all-star football game.

Wilson recalled some of his earliest memories as head coach at Clay-Battelle, including an upset win over Doddridge County in 1994 and the team’s first-ever playoff appearance in 1997.

“1997 is one I’ll never forget, going to our first state playoffs as a team,” he said. “We entered that game as the 14-seed on the road against the 3rd-seed and we lost in double overtime. It’s funny how I can basically replay that whole game from nearly 30 years ago. We went back to the playoffs in 1998, so back-to-back years was special in my early years. It was a major learning experience in the early years, but they were great ones.”

Wilson said being able to have the family feel among him and his players made a huge difference on and off the field.

“It wasn’t all about football,” he said. “We talked about life and their futures and what they wanted to do. We talked about family and what their plans were. My players were my family. I have two kids of my own but all of my players were my kids. We used to have players come straight to my house after games and watch the game film on my VCR player back then.”

Clay-Battelle athletic director JR Krafft got his start as an assistant coach on Wilson’s staff.

“Coach Wilson took a chance on a young guy who didn’t have coaching experience and gave me an opportunity,” Krafft said. “He has taught me so much about, not only coaching, but about life. He’s a great father and a grandfather. He started as a boss to me but we’ve become friends since then. When I need advice in my life, I go to Coach Wilson. As an athletic director, I couldn’t be more thankful for someone like him. It’s something I can’t truly express.”

Wilson said he will remember a lot of the wins, while also some of the losses, but he won’t ever forget the love and support that came from the community and school.

“Parents and Clay-Battelle community, thank you for all the help on various projects, fundraisers and for the continued enthusiasm and support you have given to our program,” he said. “My players and I have shared so much these past years; food, wins, losses, celebrations, and tears. We made so many memories that will last a lifetime.

“Lastly, I would like to thank my wife, Terry, and all of my family for being with me every step of the way on the wonderful journey we had. Once a Cee-Bee, always a Cee-Bee.”

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