By D. Mark Mitchell
Coach Caleb Ross gave his football team two weeks off after the end of school for the summer. The Bulldogs reported Monday morning at 6 a.m. for the first day of summer workouts.
This will be the first summer workouts at OHS for Coach Ross. The first year head coach spent 10 days with the team during spring practice but still needs time with the players and assistant coaches to get to know them and their strengths and weaknesses.
The Opelika High head football coaching position is seen as “one of the best” coaching jobs in Alabama. There are many reasons for this: state-of-the-art facilities, an administration that allows you to do the job without interference, the continued support from the city of Opelika including Mayor Fuller and the city council , Opelika has only one high school in its system, the All-Sports Booster Club and corporate sponsors. I could mention more positives but you get the idea. Obviously, the positives far out-weigh the negatives.
One negative to some is that most of the football assistant coaches are tenured and have been a part of the OHS program for many years. New coaches like to bring a few of their own assistants for many reasons, such as trust, loyalty and knowing precisely what the head coach expects.
Coach Ross looks at this situation differently. He sees a group of men who have worked together for several years and have been successful.
Of course, this has to be a two-way street; the assistant coaches who were in place must realize that Opelika has a new head coach and they must prove to him that they will be a loyal, dependable and capable staff who will work with him to make Opelika the best football program in the state.
The hiring of a new head coach is bound to mean some changes. Everyone must accept those changes and either get aboard or leave the train.
Ross inherited a staff with one opening, the offensive coordinator position Coach Bryan Moore held before leaving for the head job at Eufaula. Former head coach Brian Blackmon elected to serve as his own offensive coordinator.
Coach Ross has named Jonathan Chandler offensive coordinator and hired former Gulf Shores head football coach, Jamie Williams. He will serve as assistant head coach and will coach wide receivers. Another coach has left the staff for a head coaching job. Coach Buster Daniel took the head coaching position at Valley three weeks ago. His replacement will be announced in the coming days.
Opelika’s football team will continue workouts throughout the summer, participating in 7-on-7 tournaments and a team camp. The players and staff will have a few weeks off, including the Fourth of July and a week off prior to the start of the fall football season and school year.
Every sport at Opelika High School works out during the summer months. Baseball, girls and boys basketball, and softball are holding camps and workouts this month.
DIXIE BASEBALL/SOFTBALL ALL-STARS
Opelika Dixie Youth, Dixie Boys and Softball have concluded the regular season. Each age group will participate in tournaments in the coming weeks. I will update all the All-Star teams next week.
D.Mark Mitchell is sports director for iHeart Media, Alabama Dixie Boys State director and vice president of the A-O Sports Council.