Every time a position on the Warren County High School football team staff has opened up, coach Tommy Johnson has tried to hire Chris MacKeown. Johnson finally got his man this offseason.
MacKeown has been hired as the team’s newest offensive coordinator, the third to serve under coach Johnson in his four-year tenure as the leader of the Pioneers.
MacKeown comes to Warren County after serving as the first head coach of the Knoxville Nighthawks last year in the inaugural Professional Indoor Football League season. His time with the Nighthawks is part of an extended career coaching arena football, including stops with the Allen Wranglers, Colorado Crush, Amarillo Dusters, Austin Wranglers, Columbus Destroyers, Louisville Fire, Cincinnati Swarm, Indiana Firebirds and Dayton Skyhawks.
MacKeown is excited to be in Warren County and is already impressed with the Pioneers he will be working with after seeing the team up close during three days of practice this week.
“Tennessee is beautiful and this is a beautiful area,” said MacKeown. “I’ve really been impressed by these kids. There is a good talent level here and a lot of good, hard-working kids.”
Though MacKeown’s last decade has been spent in arena football, he also has an extensive background coaching high school. MacKeown coached at three high schools in Ohio and spent two years in Texas coaching Arbor Christian Academy.
In his first two stops in Ohio at Wayne and Fairmount High Schools, MacKeown was exposed to impressive levels of high-school talent. Five players who MacKeown coached at Wayne High School would go on to play in the NFL while his Fairmount High School teams competed against NFL players A.J. Hawk, Nick Mangold and Trent Cole.
MacKeown has had a chance to rebuild high school programs in his career as well. At Troutwood High School, MacKeown worked with head coach Maurice Douglas, an NFL veteran, to bring the school to a state-championship level. He did the same at Arbor Christian Academy in Texas.
“Arbor had been in existence since 1987 and had never won more than one game in a season before I was hired as offensive coordinator,” said MacKeown. “We won 15 games in two years and were one win from the state championship in my second year.
“At Troutwood, it was kind of like here. There had been some struggles, but coach Douglas turned it around over time and is now competing for state championships.”
MacKeown has been a head coach in his last two stops, but will be the leader of the Pioneer offense that will be looking to be more balanced this season. Coach Johnson served as the interim offensive coordinator in the spring after Pedro Holiday left and began to install the I-formation.
Coach Johnson believes MacKeown will make a huge impact on Warren County this season.
“Chris understands the nuances of the game and fits his offense around his players,” said Johnson. “He’s a tremendous addition to our staff.”
MacKeown will replace Holiday after he left to take the same position at Marshall County following one year of being the Warren County offensive coordinator. Holiday will coach under Aaron Pitts, who was the Pioneer offensive coordinator during Johnson’s first two seasons.
MacKeown’s relationship with coach Johnson led him to Warren County, where he hopes to be successful by getting the ball to the Pioneer playmakers and pushing the right buttons on game night.
“I’ve known coach Johnson for 12 years. He’s like a brother to me. Without him, I wouldn’t be here. But I’m glad I am here,” said MacKeown. “As far as my organization of the offense, putting players in the right position for them to be successful and the team to be successful is my best quality I believe.
“On game nights, I feel like I do a pretty good job of mixing things up and keep with what is working. I’ll also take input from our staff and listen to their suggestions.”
MacKeown, an Ohio native, graduated from the University of Toledo in 1991 and earned his master’s degree from Dayton in 2001.