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Prep Football: Ross will speed up Cavaliers’ attack

NEW CAROLINE COACH, WHO HAS

COLLEGE BACKGROUND, WILL

EMPLOY SPREAD OFFENSE

BY TAFT COGHILL JR.

When Jeremiah Ross was raised in Orange County, Calif., his lifestyle wasn’t similar to the television program that highlights the region.

“That’s nothing like where I grew up,” Ross said of the “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” “It was far away from the beach.”

Ross is now even farther away from the West Coast. He has been hired as the new football coach at Caroline High School. Ross succeeds Gene Boley, who resigned in December after back-to-back 2–8 seasons.

“For our next step as a family, we were looking hard at the Virginia area,” said Ross who has a wife, three children and one on the way. “We were especially looking at more rural places.”

Ross, 35, was the co-offensive coordinator at Western Carolina in 2011, and the offensive line coach there in 2010. Prior to his college coaching stint, he was the head coach at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino, Calif., for five years.

Ross said he wanted to return to the high school level after he wasn’t retained by new Western Carolina head coach Mark Speir. Former Catamounts coach Dennis Wagner, who hired Ross, resigned in November.

“My wife and I prayed about it and evaluated where I could have the most impact on young men,” said Ross, who has family in Northern Virginia. “We felt like I could impact young men the most at the high school level.”

Caroline administrators said Ross’ background as a player and coach is impressive.

Ross (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) was a three-year starter at right tackle for Fresno State, where he later served as a graduate assistant.

During his tenure at Crespi, 18 players signed with major college programs. Three of his ex-players—quarterback Bryan Bennett, center Hroniss Grasu and wide receiver Blake Stanton—are members of the Oregon Ducks. His former quarterback, Kevin Prince, is entering his fourth year as the starter at UCLA.

“His connections are nothing short of advantageous for our kids,” Caroline athletic director Jeremy Jack said.

Ross becomes Caroline’s fourth coach in the past five years. Each of the past two coaches left the school amid controversy.

Ben Boyd resigned after a tumultuous 2009 season in which he faced criminal charges of forging and uttering a public record in relation to his application at Caroline. The charges, which stemmed from whether or not he admitted to a prior steroids conviction on his application, were later dismissed.

Caroline then hired Boley, who stepped down after several parents spoke out at a School Board meeting against his alleged treatment of players.

“None of that stuff concerns me,” Ross said. “It’s all in the past.”

It did, however, prompt Caroline to change it hiring process, according to assistant superintendent Eric Cunningham.

As part of the new process, Jack and interim principal Richard “Soup” Griffin met with parents and players to ask them what they were looking for in their next coach. Two parents were also on the search committee.

Griffin said that wasn’t to appease the parents who complained about Boley, but rather to find the best coach possible.

“The whole process was time-consuming,” Griffin said. “But we took pride in doing all of that, and we feel like it was well-done.”

The Caroline School Board must approve the hiring, and the matter will come up at the May 14 meeting.

Ross plans to install an “up-tempo” spread offense that he learned from connections with University of California head coach Jeff Tedford and Oregon coach Chip Kelly.

This is the first year the Virginia High School League has allowed out-of-season workouts. So Ross said he wants to begin working with players in mid-May.

“I want to put my best foot forward for the kids and help them become successful young men,” Ross said. “And we want to win some football games, too.”

Taft Coghill Jr.: 540/374-5526

tcoghill@freelancestar.com

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