Son takes over for dad, who retired last month

In a span of just a few hours Thursday afternoon, Ross Brown went from pursuing his first job as a head football coach to be named the new coach at Elizabethtown High School.

Brown, 37, said he interviewed Thursday around 1:30 p.m. for the position left vacant last month after his dad, legendary high-school football coach Mark Brown, retired after six years as the Panthers’ head coach and 38 seasons overall.

He left the interview, “not really knowing how well I did,’’ he said, and went to offseason conditioning for Panther players not involved in other sports at the Elizabethtown Athletic Complex.

“I was shocked, I really was. I was in total shock when they (selection committee members) walked in and announced it,’’ Brown said. “I’m just really excited and this is the job I wanted. I could have looked at other jobs and applied, but this is really the job I wanted.’’

Brown was the only person interviewed by the five-person selection committee comprised of school administrators, a teacher and community member for the position.

EHS Athletic Director Glenn Spalding said, “E’town football is not broken, so why wouldn’t we keep it in house with someone we know and trust?’’ He said the school received several applications for the job.

Spalding, who coached Brown when he played at Nelson County High School, said several things stand out about his new head coach from his knowledge and passion for the game to how he is able to relate to student-athletes.

“He has a knack with his rapport with kids and he’s always trying to have them do the right thing,’’ he said. “His ability to communicate with kids was impressive.’’

Brown said he considers himself a “players’ coach.’’

“I like to form a relationship with the kids,’’ he said. “The players want to do well for me and I want to do well for them.’’

Brown takes over for his dad, who posted a 331-140 record in 38 years as a head coach and went 59-19 in six years as the EHS head coach.

Ross Brown spent all six of those seasons as Elizabethtown’s defensive coordinator.

He said he’s not sure at this point how much he will be involved with the offense and defense, but expects “to have a hand in one of the areas if not both.’’

“We have some hires to make so we’ll see how it goes from there,’’ he said. He said he expects to fill three coaching positions.

Brown, a father of two children, said he sees a fluid transition from coordinator to head coach, especially from a player’s perspective.

“With me what you see is what you get,’’ he said. “I’m not going to turn it up just because I’m a head coach. We’ve been moving in the right direction for awhile now with the program and that’s what I want us to keep doing.’’

He said he learned many things from coaching with his father for 11 years at EHS and John Hardin.

“I still think you need to be your own person,’’ Brown said.

Learning from one of the sport’s best provided him with invaluable insight into the game and what goes into being a head coach.

“It has been a pleasure and an honor to work with my dad throughout my career,’’ he said. “It has been a learning experience that I feel fortunate to have had access to. I feel like I’ve had the benefit of learning from one of the best to do it.’’

He’s also not ruling out his dad helping with the program in some capacity.

“I think he would as much as I wanted him to,’’ he said.

The Panthers return a solid nucleus from a 9-3 team that won the district title and fell in the second round of the Class 3-A state playoffs.

“A lot of coaches will leave when there’s a dry spell,’’ he said. “My dad didn’t. We have a lot of good football players back and a lot of good athletes in the program.’’

The Panthers have reached the state semifinals in three of the last six years.

Spalding had said if someone is hired and not currently teaching in the school district, the job had to be posted with the Kentucky Department of Education for 30 days. Since Brown already is a teacher in the district, the hire could come before 30 days.

The Ross Brown Era at EHS opens Aug. 21 when the Panthers meet Glasgow in the Scottie Bowl in Glasgow.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at 270-505-1757 or

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