Oak Ridge football hires coach Derek Rang
Toyloy Brown III, Knoxville News Sentinel | Story Link
Oak Ridge athletics director Joe Gaddis described the search process for the school's next football coach as exhaustive. The position received over 50 applicants.
“It took us a while to go through everything, but we feel like we got our man, so we're excited,” Gaddis told Knox News on Tuesday after announcing Derek Rang as the Wildcats coach.
Rang replaces Scott Cummings, who resigned after coaching his first and only season at Oak Ridge.
“At Oak Ridge High School, you have a great football tradition, first and foremost,” Rang told Knox News. “You have very high academic standards; you have a city school system; you have a community that supports athletics, that supports the school. There's high expectations. … All that criteria right there really fits me.
"As a football coach, you’re just honored to be in the position and do not want to let the school or community down.”
Gaddis, a former football coach at Oak Ridge, said Rang’s winning acumen, which started from his time as a player at Maryville, where he was part of three state championship teams, made him a good fit for this opportunity.
“He’s a proven winner,” Gaddis said. “He’s won at the 1A level, the 2A level, the 3A level, the 5A level. I think it's safe to say that Derek Rang is a winner, period, and obviously a proven winner is what we’re looking for. And he certainly fits that bill in more ways than one.”
Rang coached at Lewis County in 2022, leading the Panthers to an 11-2 record. Prior to that season, he was at Jackson Prep in Mississippi for a year, where he was an assistant. He was on staff under one of his best friends who was fired during the season.
He also coached at Powell in 2012, where he led the Panthers to a 12-2 record, and at Dresden from 2014-16, where he won a Class 1A state championship his last season. His overall record there was 32-8. He also coached at Gatlinburg-Pittman from 2017-20 and had an overall record of 32-17.
When asked if Rang’s recent history of coaching at schools for a season was a worry, Gaddis said it wasn’t.
“Lewis County, he was there a year and he was offered the Oak Ridge job and he may have stayed there awhile too, so we’re not concerned about that,” Gadis said. “We’re just happy to have him and happy that he’s been able to win wherever he’s been, and we certainly anticipate adding Oak Ridge to that list of stops where he’s won quite a bit and we’re looking forward to him staying here awhile.”
Rang said he has sights on staying for the long term at Oak Ridge.
“It's a place that I just know, for me, I want to be for a long time,” Rang said. “(When) you have those opportunities to be really, really successful, you want to stay in them and you just feel like this is a great fit.”
Gaddis said that expectations of winning are high at Oak Ridge, and that Rang is aware of that.
“Standards here are high, expectations here are high and coach Rang knows that coming in and I’m sure he’s more than prepared for that,” Gadis said. “Most good coaches like him welcome that pressure and even thrive on it.”
Rang is in agreement.
“My philosophy has always been you want high expectations; you want the challenge,” Rang said. “That's going to be a prerequisite of the job. There’s going to be high expectations at Oak Ridge, there always have and always will be.”
In Cumming’s lone season with the program, he led the Wildcats to a 7-6 record, reaching the Class 5A state quarterfinals. They lost to Powell, 43-13.
Cummings told Knox News that the Oak Ridge administration believed the direction of the program was “in question,” and he was given the option to either be fired or resigned.
Oak Ridge's last state championship appearance was in 2020, when it lost to Summit 28-7 in the Class 5A BlueCross Bowl. Its most recent state title was in 1991, when it defeated Gallatin 30-0.
4/26 - 5/16: Spring Practice
3:30 - 5:45 PM, ORHS
5/23: Freshman Parent Mtg.
6 PM, Amphitheater
5/23: Football Booster Mtg.
7 PM, Auditorium
5/30 - 6/22: Summer Conditioning
8-11 AM, ORHS
6/12: Freshman Report
8 AM, ORHS
6/26 - 7/7: TSSAA Dead Period
7/15: Wildcat Card Blitz Day
8 AM-12 PM, Blankenship
7/28: Scrimmage vs Fulton
5 PM, Blankenship
8/4: Scrimmage vs Maryville
5 PM, Maryville
8/11: Jamboree vs Science Hill
7 PM, Carson-Newman University