The question of who will fill the open head football coach/athletic coordinator at Ellison High School could be answered in the next few days.
Second interviews for the opening are under way after the Killeen Independent School District hiring committee whittled down the list of 91 applicants to three candidates who will be brought into the KISD offices over the next few days.
“We’ve been very, very pleased with the process, we have had some outstanding applicants, and ... we feel confident, thus far, that we are going to find the right fit that is going to be successful for that athletic program and the Ellison campus,” KISD Deputy Superintendent John Craft said.
Mansfield defensive coordinator Jerry Edwards, Leander Vandegrift offensive line coach Trent Gregory and White Settlement Brewer head coach Paul Sharr were selected among an applicant list of 14 that came in for initial interviews Monday and Tuesday.
“The committee just felt like the initial three we are inviting back for this next round of interviews, we saw their ability to develop those relationships, that rapport with the student-athletes, the parents, the community, the staff there at Ellison that qualified them — we felt like — to come back for another round of interviews,” Craft said.
Of those 14 interviewed, three were current head coaches, 10 were coordinators, and then Gregory, who has head coaching experience at Austin Anderson. There were no internal candidates brought in for interviews despite several applying for the opening.
Ninety-one candidates submitted applications for the job before its cut-off date Jan. 7, and KISD conducted first interviews earlier this week.
“We’re looking for the right fit for Ellison High School and the Ellison athletic program, which includes a coach’s ability to motivate student athletes, build relationships with student-athletes, and staff and parents, to really build a sense of community, a sense of confidence that will carry over into successful athletic seasons for the next (few) years,” Craft said.
Edwards has been defensive coordinator/assistant head coach at Mansfield since 2008, where the Tigers recorded the best five-year span in school history winning 35 games.
Edwards led a defense that finished in the top two in district in total yardage, points and rushing yards allowed in four of his five years.
Gregory is in his third year as offensive line coach at Vandegrift after three years as offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Mansfield Timberview. From 1996-2007, Gregory was the head football coach and athletic coordinator at Austin Anderson, where he went 39-64 overall and advanced to the playoffs in 2000, 2002, and 2003, winning the program’s first district (26-4A) championship in 2003.
Sharr has been at White Settlement Brewer since Feb. 2008, where he took over a program that was just 13-38 from 2003-07 and has gone 23-27 in his time there with one winning season (6-4) in 2011 surrounded by 5-5 seasons in 2010 and 2012.
“We will begin to try and look at the applicant even more holistically and just try to make the determination whether that applicant is truly the best fit for that athletic campus coordinator position/head football coach,” Craft said.
Of the three invited back, Sharr and Edwards are the only ones with master’s degrees, a prerequisite according to the initial job posting, which closed Jan. 7 at midnight.
The job opened Nov. 16 when former Eagles head coach Buddy McBryde resigned effective at the end of his current contract after finishing with a second consecutive winless season.
McBryde guided the Eagles over the last five seasons, compiling a 13-37 record, including the program’s first 20-game winless streak.
KISD formed a hiring committee to review all applications and determine the best possible hire for Ellison and its student-athletes. Among the members of the hiring committee were Craft, KISD Chief Personnel Officer Steve Cook, KISD Athletic Director Tom Rogers, KISD Assistant Athletic Director Kim Wilson, Ellison principal David Dominguez, and Ellison assistant principal Rhea Bell.