Powell rides into town to take on the Cougars tonight (Sept. 29) and their head coach is no stranger to the sidelines of Pat Kerr Field. Rodney Ellison is one of the most successful Cougar Alumni to ever join the coaching ranks. He took Wartburg Central from district doormat to state ranked contender and he seems to be righting the ship at Powell.
To me this is a very personal thing. Rodney Ellison is one of my dearest friends. We shared many days on the sideline together and many nights…………well we won’t tell those stories here. What I will talk about is the man’s drive as a coach.
I first met Rodney when he was a wearing the blue and orange. It was that year I have written about many times where Dewayne “Mailman” Kitts, the late, great Steve Rutherford and myself were coaching JV at CCHS. Rodney was playing receiver at the time and it was not the most offensively powerful days of Cougar football. In fact Rodney did not catch many passes simply because we were not exactly throwing many downfield passes in that era. But Rodney was actually doing something better than any receiver I had ever seen at that time. He was blocking. Lots of folks do not understand how crucial this can be. It is easy to just stop and watch as a receiver when the play is not going your way. Not Rodney,many a safety or corner thought they had an easy play but Rodney had mastered the art of the crack back block (which is perfectly legal if you are not blocking bellow the waist).
Rodney already had a passion for the game and knew he was unlikely to play on the next level.The obvious answer for his football passion was coaching. Alas my coaching days at the high school were at an end. I actually thought my days of coaching were at an end. But a little leprechaun named Johnny Bruce quickly changed that. He was taking back the head job at JMS and let’s be honest my blood happens to run a very deep blue. I did not hesitate when he asked me to come work with the line and coach JV. He also told me that I would be working with Rodney. I was pretty happy with this as I always liked Rodney. What I did not know was that this was going to be life altering for me.
As I have also written before I could be a bit high strung and difficult to work with at that point in my life. I had a fear that though I liked him that Rodney and I would not be friends after a season together. It turns out that I had found the Ric Flair to my Arn Anderson. We worked flawlessly together. He was a natural on the offensive side of the ball. I was really hitting my stride calling defense. Together we honestly worked as one and by the end of the season were completing each others sentences.
Political hyenas eventually cut our partnership short. Johnny Bruce was terminated as head coach and a new coach was brought in. I was the only coach from the staff not asked back. This actually probably kept me out of jail because I would have likely fought anyone from that political regime that approached me. Rodney and I remained close and I cheered him from a distance.
A couple of years later I got call from Rodney telling me that there was a coaching change coming and that either he or some guy named Sean Jessie would be the next coach of Jacksboro. I immediately offered to find this Sean guy and kick the crap out of him and demand he drop out of the coaching race (I was a really bitter person and wanted Rodney to have the job after the way Coach Bruce was forced out). Rodney talked me down and assured me things would work out. The pair eventually became co head coaches and Sean went on to also become a dear friend.
I was happy to eventually unite with them in what I felt was a great coaching staff. Though our time as trio was brief it was also great.
Rodney and Sean both went on to coach at the high school level. I hung up my whistle for a camera and keyboard. But I can honestly say I never had a better time than when I coached with Rodney.
Now Rodney is coming home as a district rival. But remember this Panther is a Cougar Alumni and though the vast majority of you reading this article will be cheering for the Cougars I also encourage you to congratulate Rodney on all he has done as a coach since graduating CCHS. If you are a Powell fan reading this I hope you know how lucky you are. Embrace this guy as your coach and you will be contending again.
Rodney this is one game I can not cheer you on but know that no matter what I will always be one of your biggest fans and supporters. Also diamonds are forever my friend and your Enforcer still has your back.