KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Oak Ridge Wildcats have rotated through three coaches in three years. Joe Gaddis was the head coach in 2021. Scott Cummings took over in 2022. Now, it’s Derek Rang leading the Wildcats.
“I guess the thing I’m most excited about is No. 1 just kind of bring some stability to the program,” said Rang. “Then No. 2, obviously, Oak Ridge High School has a very tradition-rich football program, and I think that just makes it super exciting that you’re blessed to try to uphold that football tradition, and there is a lot of pressure with that.”
“At first it was pretty iffy,” said Oak Ridge senior running back DeJauvis Dozier. “At the same time, having a coach after somebody like coach Gaddis on that status, it was very iffy. This year coming in with coach Rang and stuff like that, it’s been very easy. He’s a good coach. He knows what he’s doing off the field and on the field. He’s been helping a lot. Going to camps and stuff like that. Helping new players get pushed out. It’s been a very easy change, and he’s a good coach.”
Rang will rely on Dozier to carry the team to its first state title since 1991. The senior rushed for 1,110 yards and 15 touchdowns last season.
“From a strength standpoint, we feel like our athleticism is really good,” said Rang. “We feel like we have a lot of players at receivers (and) defensive back. Athletic traits there. Running back is a strength of ours, too, with DeJauvis being back. We feel good about those two areas.”
The Wildcats currently have a quarterback battle. The competition is between Lyfe Goins and Blane Stansberry.
“The one thing we like about them is we feel that both guys can run the offense and manage the offense at a high level as far as getting the plays, knowing where to go with the ball, knowing protections and all the intricacies the quarterback has to do,” said Rang.
Oak Ridge opens its season against Jefferson County at Blankenship Field. Kickoff is on Aug. 18 at 7 p.m.