Phoenix players’ athletic abilities, potential, and excitement for football sealed the deal for new head coach Garrett Mack.
He’s been put forward by Oberlin athletic director Ty Stillman for the job from a pool of 10 strong candidates. The board of education must still approve the hiring at its Feb. 23 meeting.
Mack grew up in Brunswick, Ohio, and played three years as linebacker for the Blue Devils. He took his talents to Ohio Dominican University for a year before transferring to Baldwin Wallace University.
He’s been a football coach for the past six years, the first three at Holy Name High School as the strength and conditioning coordinator and linebacker coach. Mack’s past three years have been in the Patriot Athletic Conference as the defensive coordinator for Fairview High School.
The Brunswick graduate also served as the Warriors’ assistant boys varsity basketball coach and shot and discus coach for the track team.
Mack is eager to meet his players and start preparing for the 2016 football season.
He said working for Stillman and knowing the football team’s potential in the upcoming years is what drew him to the position.
“After talking to (superintendent) Dr. (David) Hall and seeing the excitement he and the community have for football and athletics was great,” Mack said.
He said that in fielding a team against Oberlin the past three years, he always saw how much athletic ability the Phoenix had.
“I feel like with the right direction and the right pieces and parts and plans that we can do a lot of special things here,” Mack said. “We played them week eight last year and going into the game I was nervous about it. Last year was definitely the best year they have had that I’ve seen.”
The Phoenix ended the season 2-8 and are 4-16 over the past two years. “They are the best 4-16 team I have seen,” Mack said.
Oberlin is losing six players to graduation this year — two running backs and four linemen. Mack’s hoping to pick up a few additional players from other Phoenix teams to help round out the 2016 roster.
He is excited to exploit Oberlin’s offense and allow returning quarterback David Payne III to use his feet more to get out of the pocket and run the ball.
“I think if David can get out there and run around, he will cause a lot of chaos for other teams,” Mack said. As a defensive coordinator, he’s always been wary of mobile quarterbacks because that’s an additional player you have to watch and cover.
Payne is one of the players Mack is leaning on to be the team’s leader.
“I think there’s going to be a lot of kids that will become interested in football,” he said. “There’s always a spot for everyone on the football team.”
The new head coach has started watching film from this past season and meeting the players at the high school. He is the building substitute for OHS and Langston Middle School.
“It’s nice to be able to see these guys in the hallways and build a relationship with them in February when the season isn’t until August,” he said. “The next thing I have to do is sit down with the old staff and evaluate them.”
Mack’s top two priorities as a head coach are to have alignment and commitment. Coaches need to be on the same page with the same mission, each unit working in tandem.
“I think we have to be committed year-round,” Mack said. “I think if we want to be a successful team we have to make the sacrifice starting now in the weight room and all summer.”
Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @ValUrbanik on Twitter.
Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune
Garrett Mack has been selected as the new Phoenix head football coach pending approval by the Oberlin school board.