Chronicle: Assistants Backbone of Football Programs

November 19, 2000

Backbone of the Program

The thought weaved through his mind like an open wide receiver slicing through his defense.

As he drove the 220-mile stretch from Lincolnton to Albany over the summer, Lincoln County defensive coordinator Howard Ellis wondered whether he could relocate his family and become head coach of the Dougherty High Trojans.

The 48-year-old Ellis visited Albany twice. But the seven state championships and four runner-up finishes since he arrived at Lincoln County in 1980 -- among other things -- kept his heart at home.

"I knew if I was going to take a job, that one was it," Ellis said. "I felt it was a good opportunity. But it just wasn't right."

Ellis said he would have received a nice pay raise, but he wouldn't specify how much.

"Money is not everything," he said. "You want to be happy with what you're doing.  You want your family to be comfortable.  You can make a lot of money and not be happy."

Assistant coaches are the backbone of football teams.  They watch film. They call plays. They teach players the fundamentals.

If Ellis had moved on, Lincoln County head coach Larry Campbell would have had a crater-sized void to fill.

"I would have hated to have lost him, but I wasn't going to stand in his way," Campbell said. "If he would have left, I would have had to make quite a few changes.  But I was glad that he decided not go to."

At Lincoln County, Campbell has five assistant coaches, three of whom have been there for more than 10 years.  The continuity of the Red Devils coaching staff has been a key to the team's success.

"From time to time, people ask what is the one thing that allows us to win consistently year in and year out. And I credit that to being able to get good assistants and keep them," Campbell said. "At our place, my assistant coaches play a vital role. Each one has a position to coach and they coach it."

(From Augusta Chronicle)