By Steve Williams
Let’s turn back the clock 4½ years. That’s about when Bryson Rosser was announced as Central High’s new head football coach.
He had made the decision to leave Hackensack High School in New Jersey, where he was offensive coordinator in 2013 and the head coach in waiting at his alma mater.
I imagine Rosser also was probably looked at as a hero at Hackensack, since he had been the quarterback on two state championships teams, including one that was ranked No. 7 nationally.
But his dad, Barry Rosser, had been a high school head coach for 28 years and Bryson felt ready to take on his own program. He knew about Central too, having been the offensive coordinator on Scott Blade’s staff at nearby Oak Ridge in 2012.
Rosser also had been the OC on Blade’s staff at Nashville Hillsboro, which knocked off Maryville in the 2008 Class 4A title game.
When Blade left Oak Ridge for Independence High in Middle Tennessee, Rosser returned to Hackensack, where Benjie Wimberly was head coach.
After one season back in New Jersey, Rosser became intrigued by the vacant Central post in Fountain City. The Bobcats had made the playoffs only once in seven years but he was eager to put his “stamp” on the CHS program.
“It is a school that is rich in pride and tradition and I am looking to build on that,” said Rosser, who had been a four-year starter at quarterback at Tennessee State University.
“Central is a school with a great number of student-athletes and anytime you get a chance to have a positive impact on the lives of young people and a community it really goes with my philosophy of life.”
Rosser’s decision to come to Knoxville appears to have turned out to be a great career move. Wimberly is still the head coach at Hackensack, and Rosser could still be waiting.
Instead, Rosser, 34, has guided Central to the playoffs four straight years. The Bobcats made it to the Class 4A state title game in 2016 before falling to Memphis East. They overcame the loss of their top two quarterbacks and reached the Class 5A semifinals last season.
Rosser’s four-year record is 34-18 overall and 15-9 in region play. His peers voted him Knox County Coach of the Year after last season.
“I feel very confident where the program is and where it’s going,” said Rosser. “Our numbers continue to grow as a team. Coaches are working extremely hard. I believe our youth association is trending in the right direction as well. I just love the overall aspect of our Central Bobcat program and where we are, especially the high school program.”
With the success, of course, come higher expectations. “But we enjoy it,” said Bryson.
He also says the extra pressure to win now is “a testament to hard work.”
No matter how good a team is, Rosser understands capturing a state title can be difficult.
“I tell my kids all the time the odds of you winning a state championship are really low,” added Rosser. “It’s still a goal for us to get back again, especially for us getting so close the past two years.
“But that’s not the ultimate goal for us. At the end of the day, it’s making memories and enjoying four years of high school football.”
Rosser is on the right track. His first four years at Central have been so enjoyable; they’ve kind of felt like the good old days.