Powell gives reins to offensive-minded Ellison

PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS New head coach Rodney Ellison meets with the Powell football team for the first time Thursday, Jan. 8. He plans to bring stability to the Panthers’ program.
PHOTO BY STEVE WILLIAMS
New head coach Rodney Ellison meets with the Powell football team for the first time Thursday, Jan. 8. He plans to bring stability to the Panthers’ program.

By Steve Williams

For years, Rodney Ellison has been close to football one way or another.

The 11 years between graduating from Campbell County High School in 1996 and Tusculum College in 2007 included raising a young family and football for Ellison, Powell High’s newest new head coach.

Barely out of high school, where he was a wide receiver and free safety, Ellison cut his teeth on coaching football at Jacksboro Middle School from 1997 through 2002.

Ellison did pretty good in the beginning, too. His 2001 team made its first-ever appearance in the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association playoffs.

Three years later, in 2004, Campbell County High enjoyed its first winning football season, capped with its first-ever TSSAA playoff appearance.

“A bunch of the kids I coached on that (middle school) team were juniors on that Campbell County team,” recalled Ellison last week.

Ellison wasn’t coaching in 2004, but he was still involved with football, “helping with the radio broadcast” of Campbell County’s special season on LaFollette station WQLA . The late Victor Jennings was the play-by-play announcer and Ellison the color analyst. “I did that for two or three years.”

Ellison began coaching on the high school level in 2006 as an assistant at Bearden and has worked his way up. He was head coach and offensive coordinator at Wartburg Central in 2011 and offensive coordinator the past two seasons at Clinton.

“He’s a very prepared person, very hard worker,” said Brad Carr, Powell athletic director, after Ellison was announced as the Panthers’ head coach last week. “He’s got a lot of energy. He does a very good job on the offensive side of the ball. He’s always coached very productive offenses. Those were some of the things we really looked at and really appealed to us.”

Starting with the 2015 season, Ellison will become Powell’s fifth head coach in five years. He also will be the offensive coordinator for the Panthers, who slipped to 1-9 last season.

Hiring a coach who can give the Powell program stability was a key objective for a committee that included Powell principal Nathan Langlois, Carr and “several other selected people,” said Carr.

“In the past couple of years, it’s been something we’ve hoped to achieve, but that’s not been the case,” said Carr. “But we really do look for Coach Ellison to come in and establish a strong foundation for our program and build on that over the course of time.”

Ellison, 36, hopes to provide that stability. To get that started, he said he must “build a relationship and trust” with the players.

“Powell has such a great tradition,” said Ellison. “It’s one of those positions I think a lot of coaches would like to be in. I feel very fortunate to be here.

“There’s a big talent pool to pull from here. There’s a lot of community support. There’s so many things special about this place, I just can’t narrow it down to one.

“I can see this being a position anyone would want to be in for a long time, myself included. It’s one of those jobs where you can’t climb much higher. It’s in one of the bigger classifications in the state. They’ve been to state championship games (1991 and 2011). I hope I can take them back there and we can actually bring the the gold ball home.

“Just knowing I’m in the same position as Clark Duncan and Matt Lowe, who did phenomenal jobs here along with many other coaches, it’s an honor and a special place I would like to be for several years.”

Ellison won’t officially start at Powell until the 2015-16 school year begins in August. But his current job as PE teacher at Norwood Middle School in Anderson County allows for him to be at Powell in the afternoons, so he will be able to oversee off-season workouts and spring practice, said Carr.

Ellison, who will also teach PE at Powell, received his Master’s in Recreation and Sports Science with emphasis on coaching education from Ohio University in 2013.

“There’s a lot of positives about him,” said Carr. “He’s very confident coming into this job. He has a plan that’s going to work and he has a plan that, of course, is going to take a couple of years, but he’s very committed to that and believes in it, and obviously we believe in him.”

Ellison resides in Oak Ridge with his wife, Jocelyn, and their children, Courtney, 15; Rodney III, 13; and Gavin, 3.

By Steve Williams

For years, Rodney Ellison has been close to football one way or another.

The 11 years between graduating from Campbell County High School in 1996 and Tusculum College in 2007 included raising a young family and football for Ellison, Powell High’s newest new head coach.

Barely out of high school, where he was a wide receiver and free safety, Ellison cut his teeth on coaching football at Jacksboro Middle School from 1997 through 2002.

Ellison did pretty good in the beginning, too. His 2001 team made its first-ever appearance in the Tennessee Middle School Athletic Association playoffs.

Three years later, in 2004, Campbell County High enjoyed its first winning football season, capped with its first-ever TSSAA playoff appearance.

“A bunch of the kids I coached on that (middle school) team were juniors on that Campbell County team,” recalled Ellison last week.

Ellison wasn’t coaching in 2004, but he was still involved with football, “helping with the radio broadcast” of Campbell County’s special season on LaFollette station WQLA . The late Victor Jennings was the play-by-play announcer and Ellison the color analyst. “I did that for two or three years.”

Ellison began coaching on the high school level in 2006 as an assistant at Bearden and has worked his way up. He was head coach and offensive coordinator at Wartburg Central in 2011 and offensive coordinator the past two seasons at Clinton.

“He’s a very prepared person, very hard worker,” said Brad Carr, Powell athletic director, after Ellison was announced as the Panthers’ head coach last week. “He’s got a lot of energy. He does a very good job on the offensive side of the ball. He’s always coached very productive offenses. Those were some of the things we really looked at and really appealed to us.”

Starting with the 2015 season, Ellison will become Powell’s fifth head coach in five years. He also will be the offensive coordinator for the Panthers, who slipped to 1-9 last season.

Hiring a coach who can give the Powell program stability was a key objective for a committee that included Powell principal Nathan Langlois, Carr and “several other selected people,” said Carr.

“In the past couple of years, it’s been something we’ve hoped to achieve, but that’s not been the case,” said Carr. “But we really do look for Coach Ellison to come in and establish a strong foundation for our program and build on that over the course of time.”

Ellison, 36, hopes to provide that stability. To get that started, he said he must “build a relationship and trust” with the players.

“Powell has such a great tradition,” said Ellison. “It’s one of those positions I think a lot of coaches would like to be in. I feel very fortunate to be here.

“There’s a big talent pool to pull from here. There’s a lot of community support. There’s so many things special about this place, I just can’t narrow it down to one.

“I can see this being a position anyone would want to be in for a long time, myself included. It’s one of those jobs where you can’t climb much higher. It’s in one of the bigger classifications in the state. They’ve been to state championship games (1991 and 2011). I hope I can take them back there and we can actually bring the the gold ball home.

“Just knowing I’m in the same position as Clark Duncan and Matt Lowe, who did phenomenal jobs here along with many other coaches, it’s an honor and a special place I would like to be for several years.”

Ellison won’t officially start at Powell until the 2015-16 school year begins in August. But his current job as PE teacher at Norwood Middle School in Anderson County allows for him to be at Powell in the afternoons, so he will be able to oversee off-season workouts and spring practice, said Carr.

Ellison, who will also teach PE at Powell, received his Master’s in Recreation and Sports Science with emphasis on coaching education from Ohio University in 2013.

“There’s a lot of positives about him,” said Carr. “He’s very confident coming into this job. He has a plan that’s going to work and he has a plan that, of course, is going to take a couple of years, but he’s very committed to that and believes in it, and obviously we believe in him.”

Ellison resides in Oak Ridge with his wife, Jocelyn, and their children, Courtney, 15; Rodney III, 13; and Gavin, 3.

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