Donnie Harris grew up around football and has coached the game for the better part of two decades in Warren County. The longtime assistant coach will now have his shot at leading a program.
Harris was hired as the Warren County Middle School football coach, replacing Adam Wood after he resigned following one season as the Pioneer head coach.
Wood stepped down after a 2-5 season with WCMS, leaving the program in search of its second head coach in as many years. Harris applied for the job, hopeful his long background coaching Warren County football would help him land the position.
Harris’ experience at Warren County Middle School, where he coached for six years, was appealing to WCMS athletic director Kristie Rogers.
“We’re so glad to have Donnie back here,” said Rogers. “It seemed natural hiring him with his experience at the school, along with the added fact his father held the position as well. We’re looking forward to a fantastic season.”
Harris coached offense at Warren County Middle School from 1998-2003. He worked two years under Nathan Smith before being promoted to offensive coordinator in his third year at WCMS by new head coach Chris Madewell. After two years with Madewell, Harris stayed on to serve as Jeff Watson’s offensive coordinator when Madewell left to coach at Warren County High School.
Harris eventually made the move to Warren County High School, filling the offensive coordinator role under Madewell. In four years at WCHS, Harris coached an offense that ranked among the best in the state at running the ball. The Pioneers also made the playoffs three times.
Harris has spent the last few years coaching youth football, giving him an insight on the players who will be making up his roster at WCMS next season. Harris hopes to get to know his players even better with spring practice approaching.
“Spring practice will be about getting to know the kids and finding out what we have to work with,” said Harris. “It’s going to be nice having many assistants from last year coming back to help.”
Nick Cantrell, Devin Rackley and Bob Burch all will be back with the Pioneers after serving on Woods’ staff, along with helping Greg Cotten the year before.
Harris has followed the WCMS program closely since 1998, when he began coaching the Pioneers. The team has had its share of success lately, eventually breaking through with 10 wins under Watson in 2003, Harris’ last season as the team’s offensive coordinator. The Pioneers went on to win Central Tennessee Conference championships under Harris’ father Bill in 2006 and in 2010 with Cotten as coach. Continuing that success is a big part of Harris’ plan.
“We want to keep building on what’s been done the past decade or more,” said Harris.
While Harris brings his own style of play to WCMS, he has already had discussions with WCHS head coach Tommy Johnson. Both have a similar vision of how to be successful, though Harris thinks his style may not be exactly the same.
“We are philosophically similar,” said Harris. “We won’t look exactly the same, but the foundations will be the same.”
Harris will jump right into the job as spring practice starts Monday, May 6. Harris will hold eight practices on Monday through Thursday from 4-6 p.m. until Thursday, May 16. Any child entering grades 7-8 in the Warren County school system will be eligible to take part in the program.
Coach Harris is currently scheduling times to visit all county schools in the upcoming week and will have participation forms for interested players. The Pioneers will start their season in September.