The search for a new head football coach for the Cleveland Blue Raiders came to a quick and decisive close as the school announced the hiring of Scott Cummings on Tuesday afternoon.
“We are thrilled to welcome Coach Cummings to Cleveland,” Director of Schools Martin Ringstaff stated. “Coach Cummings will build on the growth the Blue Raiders have experienced in the last three years and continue our tradition of excellence.”
Cummings spent 16 years at Knox West, the past 13 of them as the Rebels’ head coach. His overall coaching record is currently at 101-58.
“I am definitely leaving my comfort zone where I’ve been the head coach for 13 years, but it’s time,” Cummings explained. “The No. 1 thing that got my wife and I interested in this job is the enthusiasm that Eric Phillips has for Cleveland and athletics. Then we came down and met Ms. O’Bryan (Cleveland Principal Autumn O’Bryan) and her husband, and were just blown away by their enthusiasm. The second time we came down we got to meet Dr. Ringstaff. There is just an unbelievable support system here.”
For the 2014 season, West closed out its 14-1 season with the Class 5A championship title.
Under Coach Cummings’ direction, the Rebels won 21 postseason games and never lost a first-round playoff game. Cummings led West to the state semifinals in 2010 and 2011, and in 2013 his team was the state runner-up.
The new Raider coach made it clear that more state championship were in his sights.
“I’m leaving a state championship to come here, so let’s be honest about it, the future is state championships,” Coach Cummings declared. “If you’re going to be in it, coach football and put in the time that we do, the ultimate prize in our business is state championships.”
According to Cleveland Athletic Director Eric Phillips, hiring the championship-winning coach to take over the Blue Raiders football program just seemed like a natural fit.
“We had a folder full of nearly 50 applicants, but when conversations started with Scott, we knew that he was the one,” Phillips described.
In the past two seasons, Cleveland had gotten to see the former Rebel coach in action on three different instances, each of which resulted in a loss for the Raiders.
“He’s had three impressive interviews with us over the past two years,” Phillips joked in reference to the football games.
The new coach plans to hit the ground running in hopes of building up a championship-worthy Blue Raiders team.
“First things first, we have to set some short-term goals and there’s going to be a little bit of a process to it,” Coach Cummings detailed. “I’m a firm believe that you can program winning through community, through character building and through the middle school to the high school, and making it a seamless type of transition for those kids.
“I’ve had the great fortune of playing Maryville for the past 16 years and I know what community and a true middle school football program that mirrors the high school as much as possible can do for you. The first goal is to get all of the ducks in a row — people have got to be patient with me, it’s going to take a while to adapt to new schemes and I’ve got to get the coaches coached up before I can coach the kids.”
So far, the new coach is only planning on bringing one of his West staff down with him and plans to retain the coaching staff built up by former coach Ron Crawford.
“Everybody seems like they want to stay, and I trust Ron Crawford and his judgment of coaches.”
Read more: Cleveland Daily Banner - Cleveland announces new coach