DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — A familiar face is returning to the hardwood at Houston Academy.

The longest tenured coach in H.A. boys basketball history will once again be at the helm of the Raiders.

Ron Watson lead the Raiders boys basketball program for 16 years from 2003-2019.

After a three year hiatus he’s back for more.

“I know a lot of the families here and a lot of the players,” Watson said. “I’ve followed them since I left three years ago so when Whitaker retired this past spring it’s kind of been a thing I’ve talked about with the administration, we came to an agreement and I’m proud to be back.”

Watson takes over from Scott Whitaker who retired from the varsity job earlier this month.

“Things are new,” Watson said. “We’re going to do things different, be a little more upbeat. Try to do things Scott did really well. I’m going to take some of the stuff that he’s worked with, incorporate that into what we’ve done in the past and where we’re going to do this coming year.”

Players agree, Watson plus Whitaker makes a recipe for success.

“I think stacking his knowledge on top of Coach Whitaker’s knowledge is going to take us, to that next level,” junior Corey Campbell said. “Even though we’re losing some size, I think he can implicate a new strategy to get us back.”

This past season houston academy competed in the final four for the first time since 1991.

A 1983 graduate of Houston Academy, the recent success makes Watson even more proud to lead this team.

“It was really a great accomplishment as an alumni and a friend of Scott’s and a fan of the basketball program I was really proud to see them there,” Watson said. “They faced a really good Plainview team who’s got a traditionally very well coached team. We ran into a state champion that first round.”

Players have felt always felt Watson’s support at Houston Academy which makes it even more special that he’s their new coach.

“Coach Ron always came to all of our games,” sophomore Kadyn Mitchell said. “I always saw him at our games, sometimes he even tried to coach me from the stands, so I’m glad we got a coach like him that was already a part of our community.”

Watson adds that the environment in the new Killingsworth Gym will bring more excitement to his latest coaching gig.

The Raiders started workouts with Watson this week and they’re already feeling confident about the upcoming season.