By D. Mark Mitchell
Caleb Ross is the new head football coach at Opelika High School. The Opelika City Schools System announced the hire through a press release last Wednesday, concurring at the same time as Ross was telling his McGill-Toolen team that he would be leaving for Opelika. OCS Superintendent Dr. Mark Neighbors said that they are pleased with the hire.
“We are very pleased with the interview process and are extremely humbled by the number of outstanding applicants that were interested in the job. It truly speaks to the quality of our football program. We feel confident that Coach Ross is the right fit for Opelika,” Neighbors said.
Ross leaves 7A McGill-Toolen in Mobile after three seasons of working as both a head coach and assistant athletic director for the school.
A Prattville High School and Samford University alumnus, Ross played two years of football at Hinds Community College in Raymond, Miss. He is currently a semester away from receiving a master’s degree from Troy University.
The following is a timeline of Ross’s career: Clinton High (2002-2005) as defensive positions coach; Prattville High School (2006-2010) as running backs coach and offensive coordinator; The Lions won state titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008, before finishing second in 2010; Thompson High School (2011) as head coach, assistant athletic director, and social studies teacher; Spain Park High School (2012-2013) as assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the football team, winning the 5A state title in 2012. He also was the head coach of the girl’s golf team; McGill-Toolen High School (2013-2016) as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator, becoming head coach in 2014, winning the 7A state title in 2015, and finishing second last season. He also worked as the assistant athletic director for the school.
Ross appeared on my morning radio show last Thursday, after accepting the Opelika job last Wednesday, and said he was well aware of Opelika’s tradition and dominance on the gridiron.
“Growing up in Prattville and playing youth sports, you hear about Opelika. I played against them in youth leagues and in high school …I always respected Opelika,” Ross said.”Coaching at Prattville, under Bill Clark and Jamey Dubose, we knew playing Opelika would be a tough physical game … blue collar athletes with class and always well coached. Knowing former OHS head coaches Brian Blackmon and Spence McCracken are close enough to reach out and use their knowledge of Opelika and the game of football is another wonderful tool. You never stop learning. I am not one of those guys … I want to learn every day. I think of it as an asset.”
Ross’s first official day at OHS will be April 3. He and his wife Amy have two children: Jack, who is nine weeks old, and Rebecca, who is two years old. Coach Ross and family, welcome to Opelika!
OCS students returned from their spring break Monday. The OHS baseball team (11-8) went 3-2 during the week. The Bulldogs beat St. Luke 9-1, Dadeville 7-5, and Beauregard 5-2. The Dawgs lost 8-5 to Madison Academy, and 3-1 to Beauregard, respectively.
OHS hosted Wetumpka last night in the first area game of the season. The results were not available at press time. (You can find the results by listening to On the Mark weekday mornings from 7-9 a.m. on WTLM 1520 am and online at kickerfm.com/sports – click On the Mark).
The OHS girls and boys track teams continue to dominate, winning the Carrollton Invitational last week, overcoming a large field of competitors. The remaining spring sports start back this week. Visit www.opelikaathletics.com for schedules and results.
The Opelika Dixie Boys Baseball League (12-15 years) is holding registration through April 5 at the Opelika Sportsplex. Cost is $45, and includes cap and jersey. All players will be on a team. For more information, call (334) 705-5560, or email D. Mark Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.