Ellison’s next head football coach and athletic coordinator is moving closer to being finalized after the Killeen Independent School District received 91 applications for the open position.

KISD Deputy Superintendent John Craft said initial interviews are slated to begin early next week, with second and possibly third interviews to be coordinated in the days following after an initial finalist list is determined.

“It’s kind of a dynamic process, and right now I think we’re looking at a second round with the finalists, but I can’t definitively say there won’t be a third round, it really depends on how the process goes,” Craft said. “What we don’t want to do is paint ourselves into a corner. We want to make sure we find the very best candidate to fill the position.”

The job posting, which officially closed Monday at midnight, received applications from interested candidates from as far away as California and Florida, and all throughout Texas.

Of those applicants, there were 30 with head coaching experience, either currently or in the past, and 32 candidates who are currently in coordinator positions at their schools.

There were several in-house candidates currently employed within KISD, as well as a few former KISD-employed coaches looking to return. There were also several former local athletes that are interested in returning to their roots to turn around the once-proud Eagles football program.

“From a profile standpoint, we want someone that is going to be highly energetic, someone that has a proven track of success, that is student-focused, and believes in not only developing students as athletes, but students as life-long productive citizens once they graduate from Ellison High School,” Craft said.

Among the qualifications include teacher certification with a master’s degree preferred and at least five years of coaching experience, preferably with a minimum two years as a varsity head football coach.

But Craft indicated that while previous head coaching experience will be part of the determining process, it won’t be an overriding determination for the hire.

“Will it be a factor that will be looked at? Sure. It’s going to be one factor,” Craft said, “but again we’re going to be looking at candidates holistically and making sure we find the very best candidate to fill that position.”

KISD is in the process of forming a hiring committee to review and discuss all applicants and determine the best possible hire for Ellison and its student-athletes. Among the members of the hiring committee will include Craft himself, KISD Chief Personnel Officer Steve Cook, KISD Athletic Director Tom Rogers, and Ellison principal David Dominguez, among several others from within campus administration, central administration and the athletic department.

The 91 applicants is more than double the previous two openings KISD has posted for an athletic coordinator.

“That’s about what I anticipated, simply because I do believe it is a great opportunity, it’s a good position,” Craft said. “So I wasn’t necessarily surprised.”

Forty-two candidates applied for the Shoemaker position in the summer of 2011, and of those, 19 went through a shotgun-style interview process before Channon Hall was eventually hired July 1, 2011. Two years prior, KISD received 43 qualified applicants for the Harker Heights position in March 2009 that eventually went to current Knights head coach Mike Mullins.

The Ellison job opened Nov. 16 when former Eagles head coach Buddy McBryde resigned effective at the end of his current contract. McBryde guided Ellison over the last five seasons, compiling a 13-37 record, including a current 0-20 winless streak.

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