Former Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders tight end Jason Witten retired following the 2020 NFL season. After 11 Pro Bowls and two All-Pro selections over 17 years, Witten retired with the second-most receptions and receiving yards by a tight end in NFL history. His 271 games played is the most by a tight end in league history.
But that didn’t mark the end of Witten’s relationship with football. Now, he’s in another chapter, this one with his two sons.
What is Jason Witten doing now?
Witten officially retired in March 2021 in signing a one-day contract with the Cowboys following the end of his one-year deal with the Raiders. Before his official retirement, Witten signed on to coach high school football with Liberty Christian School in Argyle, Texas, north of Fort Worth.
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“I think one of the things about high school football is that you do it all,” Witten said in his first press conference in August 2021, per the Denton Record-Chronicle. “You learn how to do laundry, wash jerseys, fill up water bottles and take pads out to the field. It’s been a great experience for me. I embrace the entire process. I revere the game, and I’m not going to cheat it.”
Prior to his arrival, Liberty Christian wasn’t a football powerhouse. The Warriors had managed just two winning seasons in the previous five years. A 2-7 record in 2020 was one of the worst seasons in years.
They’d endure another two-win season in Witten’s first year at the helm, this time 2-8 in 2021. The Warriors then moved down from the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS) Division I down to Division II for the 2022 season.
That change turned things around. The Warriors won nine games in a row before falling to the All Saints’ Episcopal School in the TAPPS Division II quarterfinals 37-20. Senior quarterback Jacob Vaughan led the turnaround with 2,377 yards passing along with 25 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Vaughan’s stellar season earned him a spot on the 2022 Whataburger Super Team honoring 40 Texas high school football players.
The Warriors’ 10-2 turnaround season earned Witten TAPPS District 1-5A coach of the year honors. That performance garnered attention from Lipscomb Academy in Nashville, which was looking for a head football coach after former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer accepted a college job with UAB.
But Witten returned to Liberty Christian for another season with a new wrinkle: both of his sons, CJ and Cooper, made the varsity squad.
The Witten family and Liberty Christian shine in 2023
This fall’s seen the Warriors reach new heights under Witten.
Liberty Christian’s offense is averaging 46 points per game this fall, punctuated by an 85-13 win over Fort Worth Christian. Senior quarterback Cole Welliver’s thrown for 2,436 yards and 39 touchdowns in just 11 games. Running back Chase Garnett’s diversifying the attack with 124 yards per game and 22 touchdowns this fall.
But the defense is on another level.
Last fall, the Warriors gave up just over 14 points per game and the defense notched two shutouts the whole season. This fall, Liberty Christian’s defense is allowing less than six points per game. The unit’s tallied five shutouts in 11 games and has given up more than two touchdowns just once all season.
In the middle of that defense? Junior linebacker CJ Witten.
CJ’s been a force in 2023. He leads the team in total tackles (64), tackles for loss (9), and sacks (5).
“It’s just been great for me to be able to kind of hit pause and to be a part of every step of that journey with him through high school,” Witten told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “I’m not there to hold his hand, but at the same time, it’s just been very rewarding to to see him grow and become a leader and gain confidence.”
The younger Witten – Cooper – is chipping in as well. The freshman defensive back is third on the team in tackles but has done a little bit of everything. Two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and three blocked field goals aren’t bad for a first-year starter.
The excellence on offense and Witten-powered dominance on defense has the Warriors primed for a playoff run. They beat the Tyler Grace Cougars 56-7 Friday night in the TAPPS Division II quarterfinals. They await the winner between All Saints and Legacy Christian Academy Saturday night to see who they’ll play in the semifinals next week.
Friday night’s win puts Liberty Christian at 12-0, the most wins in a season since 2007. That fall the program went 12-1 and won a state championship.
“It’s family, you know?” Witten said to the Star-Telegram. “You got to get kids to believe that they can win, believe that they can have success, believe in the power of team and what it can teach you. I think our players know that we love them, and every coaching point that we give, is to help them be the best version of themselves.”