O’Brien Bennett grew up in the Tri-cities area and has always wanted to be a part of a small community.
Now he will get the chance to be a key member of the Unaka community as he has been named the new head football coach for the Rangers.
He replaces Steve McKinney who led the program for eight years as the Rangers made five playoff appearances (2009, 2010, 2013, 2015 and 2016).
“Growing up in the Tri-cities, I know about the Unaka program and their tight community bond and my wife and I really wanted to be a part of that,” Bennett said.
“The community is really involved with the school and I want to go in there, work hard and give them a football program they can really wrap their arms around and be proud of.”
The Rangers made the Class 1A playoffs in 2016 despite a 1-9 regular season but forfeited their playoff game against Greenback due to low numbers on the team after several players quit after the last game of the regular season.
“We are excited to announce Coach Bennett as the new head football coach,” Unaka principal Betsy Oliver said.
“He’s young and energetic and wants to make the Unaka football program one we can be proud of and we are glad he’s here now.”
Bennett played under Graham Clark and graduated from Dobyns Bennett before spending six seasons (2007-12) as the wide receivers coach at Carter High school.
The last four seasons he coached running backs, linebackers and wide receivers at Knoxville Halls (2013-16) and now feels he’s ready to run his own program.
“I’ve learned a ton of football from Graham Clark (DB), Heath Woods (Carter) and J.D. Overton (Halls) and I’m ready to apply that at Unaka and work hard.”
There are currently 13 programs looking for a head coach they are: Ravenwood, Hillsboro, Whitwell, Clarksville Northeast, Rossview, Creek wood, Ripley, Grace Christian Academy, Glencliff, Carter, ECS, Brainerd and Loretto.
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