Will Kates was hired in April as the new head football coach at Merkel. He comes to Merkel from Fort Worth Paschal where he was the offensive coordinator. It is Kates’ first head coaching position.
Interestingly, his hiring makes him the third Kates brother to be a head coach in Texas high school football. Matt Kates is currently the head coach at Class 4A LaGrange, while a third brother Ged is the head coach at Class 5A Richland.
Kates inherits a team at Merkel that went 3-6 a year ago and 1-4 in District 5-3A Division II. The Badgers have 13 returning lettermen, including three returning starters on offense and seven on defense. Kates plans to run a pro-style pistol offense and a 3-4 alignment on defense.
“We are experienced up front but young at the skill positions,” he said.
Kates will be counting on those returning linemen, including OL Elijah Flores and OL Ethan Lopez to pave the way early in the season for the Badgers’ offense. QB Joey Zink, who started a few games at quarterback last season as a sophomore, is expected to be Merkel’s starting quarterback this fall. Zink had 30 carries for 123 yards and three touchdowns rushing and completed 26 of 42 passes for 418 yards and three more scores last season.
LB Elijah Salas is expected to anchor the Badgers’ defense. Salas and Flores are not only returning starters but also returning captains for Merkel.