Trent Gregory is getting it done with a little flair.
The new Ellison head coach and athletic coordinator gets his first opportunity to show off his new and, hopefully, improved Eagles with the Green-White spring game and fair beginning at 9 a.m. today at the Eagles practice field.
“(There’s) a lot of energy, a lot of excitement, the kids are really excited about it — we want to put a good product on the field for everybody to enjoy, so come on out and let’s have some fun,” Gregory said.
Gregory has instituted a complete re-branding of Ellison football with updated uniforms and equipment. That includes brand new matte green helmets with Philadelphia Eagles-style wing decals protruding from the facemask and Nike jerseys that look similar to the green New York Jets home design with white sleeves.
“I wanted new as much as I could get — new everything,” Gregory said. “This is a new beginning.”
The varsity is slated to start at 11 a.m. and along with the Ellison band and cheerleaders, there will also be several booths and other forms of entertainment for people of all ages.
Gregory replaced former head coach Buddy McBryde, who resigned in November after compiling a 13-37 record over five seasons — including back-to-back 0-10 campaigns the last two years.
“It’s pretty new, pretty different then what’s gone on in the past, and it just gives us a chance to put some kids that are very athletic out in the grass and let them get some work done,” Gregory said.
Along with instituting new offensive and defensive schemes, the Eagles coaching staff is trying to find new playmakers on both sides of the ball after losing close to 50 players off of last season’s team.
The defense, which is switching to a 4-2-5 scheme with five defensive backs is returning several starters, including defensive end Anthony Harding, linebacker-turned-nose tackle Brandon Smith and linebacker Reggie Ford.
The biggest, most jarring change has been to the offense, where a wide-open spread attack has replaced the predominately run-based wing-T attack under McBryde.
“This game is about speed and we want speed on the field, we want to put as much speed as we can on both sides of the football,” Gregory said.
On offense, Ellison returns starting quarterback Trent Jones, fullback Deon Burch and receiver Reggie Jackson, but few of the other returns saw more than a handful of snaps on varsity last year.
Jones, a rising senior who emerged out of a crowded quarterback competition last season, is once again entrenched in a battle for starting snaps with rising junior Jacob Ledford, who played on junior varsity last season.
“We’re still working on the passing game, it can be pretty complicated, but we just want to make sure the kids understand what’s going on, what the reads and routes are, and we’re excited to see who’s going to take over and battle for the starting quarterback position,” Gregory said.
But the biggest hole that needs to be addressed will be who replaces the production of graduated tailback Isiah Cowan, who rushed for 1,525 yards and 11 touchdowns as Ellison’s main offensive threat.
Burch, who spelled Cowan some late last season, is one option along with Killeen transfer Vincent Lobendahn and rising junior bruiser Sedarian Chambers.
“It’s going good, kids have a really good attitude, working hard, we had to put in a new offense and new defense and obviously the terminology was new for the kids,” Gregory said. “It was a clean slate ... we’ve come a long way since Day 1 of spring ball but we’ve still got a long way to go.”
Ellison Green-White spring game and fair
9 a.m. Freshman scrimmage
10 a.m. JV scrimmage
11 a.m. Varsity scrimmage
Noon Food, drinks and fun