|Rozzell the right man for Fulton City gridiron plan |
|Posted: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 5:44 pm |
If it’s a dream, don’t wake Brad Rozzell up.
The 33-year-old father of two was named the head football coach at his Fulton City alma mater on Monday afternoon.
“I bleed ‘Bulldog Blue,’” the 1995 graduate of the school said in an interview with The Messenger moments after his appointment. “I grew up in this school system, got my feet wet with the middle school and when the high school job came open, I really wanted it.”
Rozzell replaces Wayne Lohaus, who served as the mentor for the Fulton City football team the past two years as a paraprofessional (and seven years total) after his retirement as the school’s guidance counselor in 2008.
It is the first prep head coaching job in football for Rozzell, a 2002 UT Martin graduate who has headed the Fulton City Middle School program the past five years and been part of the high school team as an assistant the last nine years.
That said, the administration at both the Fulton Independent Schools office and the high school agreed that they chose the right man for the job in Rozzell, the head track coach the past two years.
“When you elevate someone from within, you have idea of what you’re getting if they have a good track record,” Fulton Independent Schools Assistant Superintendent Wendell Benningfield said. “Coach Rozzell was just the logical selection. We know that he’s a good solid coach.”
FCHS principal Donna Garland agreed, adding accolades for Rozzell — who is to teach physical education — as well.
“Coach Rozzell is a Fulton City alumni with the heart for the game and students,” Garland said. “He’s worked with the students the past several years. We’re proud of what he’s accomplished at the middle school and the fact that most of his players go on to play in high school.
“He had the best preparation for the job out of those that applied.”
Now, that prep work must be utilized and Rozzell, who compiled a 13-16 worksheet at the middle school level, plans to pick up where last year’s 2-9 team left off and build upon the positives of that campaign.
“First and foremost, Coach Lohaus had a good grasp of the fundamentals and how team character plays in,” said Rozzell, who pointed out that the team won the West Kentucky Conference sportsmanship award last year. “Basically, I’m going to try to build on the fundamentals in place and I would like to see a team with similar sportsmanship that plays hard with discipline and heart.
“If that happens, hopefully, the wins will come.”
On the surface, Rozzell’s familiarity with the program, which has made the playoffs in each of the past three seasons, certainly helped his cause. However, past players from his middle school teams shouldn’t expect the same coaching style.
“My philosophy from middle school to high school is going to be like night and day,” said Rozzell, who has been in charge of the team’s offseason weight program since Lohaus resigned. “The group of kids I have as seniors now were my first eighth-graders at the middle school.
“They’ll see that at high school, I will expect more in terms of discipline and effort.”
All totaled, three people were in consideration for the position at one of the smallest Kentucky schools where football is played.
“Numbers-wise, it can be hard to compete,” Rozzell said when asked about how he will go about getting the best athletes possible into Bulldog jerseys every Friday night. “We’ve got ‘X’ amount of males in high school and that’s it. Out of those males, there’s only a certain number that want to play and excel just as much as I do.
“That’s the audience I have to reach.”
Rozzell and his wife Jerianne reside in South Fulton with their children, Allie, 5, and Brady, 2.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.