PSJA North defensive coordinator and former McAllen Memorial assistant Will Littleton was approved as the next head football coach and athletic coordinator at PSJA Memorial on Tuesday evening. Courtesy Photo | Kassy Lara Photography

PHARR — PSJA Memorial has found its next head football coach and athletic coordinator, officially naming PSJA North defensive coordinator Will Littleton as the next leader of the Wolverines’ football program.

Littleton is the son of longtime McAllen Memorial head football coach and RGV Sports Hall of Fame inductee Bill Littleton.

KRGV-TV’s Alex Del Barrio was first to report Littleton’s approval by the PSJA ISD school board Tuesday evening.

“It feels great. It’s a dream come true,” Littleton told The Monitor. “I’ve always known what I wanted to do since I was a little kid. I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a head football coach.”

Littleton has gained a reputation as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s top defensive coaches in recent years and has learned under many of the RGV’s most established head coaches.

Littleton’s high school football career officially began as a player at Cuero High School, where he played for current Hidalgo Pirates head coach and former Port Isabel Tarpons coach Monty Stumbaugh.

His familiarity with Texas high school football, however, stretches back much farther to his childhood watching his father build the McAllen Memorial Mustangs into one of the Rio Grande Valley’s perennial powers on the gridiron.

“It’s exciting to live a dream and become a head coach,” Littleton said. “(When I told) my dad (the news, he) just said to love on kids and remember the weight room changes programs. I just thanked him for preparing me for this.”

Littleton spent several seasons as a defensive assistant with McAllen Memorial before making the jump to PSJA North to become a defensive coordinator.

During several seasons coaching the Raiders’ vaunted “Blackshirt” defense, Littleton has turned PSJA North into one of the Valley’s stingiest defenses.

During a 2020 campaign that had PSJA North advancing to the area round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the Raiders’ defense pitched four second-half shutouts in eight games, including a come-from-behind 28-21 bi-district victory over previously-unbeaten Brownsville Hanna.

The Raiders ended district play allowing the second-fewest passing yards per game (124.2), while owning 31-6A’s third-ranked defense in terms of total yards. PSJA North is also one of only two Class 6A football programs in the Rio Grande Valley to produce Texas Sports Writers Association All-State defenders.

“It means the world to me. Me getting this opportunity is a reflection of our ‘Blackshirt Defense,’ which is everything I stand for,” Littleton said. “Having a competitive mentality and loving what you do produces results. I am thankful that PSJA ISD believed in me and what I stand for.”

Littleton takes over a Wolverines football program that has gone 0-14 on the gridiron since 2019, which includes a COVID-19-shortened season this past fall.

PSJA Memorial, however, is not far removed from nearly making the state playoffs a handful of seasons ago, and Littleton is convinced that with the right mindset the Wolverines can be headed in the right direction soon.

He’s hoping to lead a similar turnaround to one at PSJA North, in which the Raiders went from a 2-8 finish in 2017 to the area round of the 6A state playoffs the following season.

But more than that, Littleton hopes to build a winning culture for all PSJA Memorial athletics and put the Wolverines on the map in a number of sports.

“I’m here to be an athletic coordinator (first) and a head football coach,” he said. “I am still there for all athletes at PSJA Memorial. Our goal for football and all sports is to compete. We will have a zero-to-zero mentality at all times and just compete. The score will take care of itself at the end of the day.”

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Twitter: @ByAndyMcCulloch