Ross turns to Commins as new head football coach

Commins received school-board approval last Friday and has jumped head-first into the position after serving as a Rams assistant coach the last four years.

“I went after it with absolutely everything I had, and I got a lot of help from a lot of people,” said Commins, who ran the Ross offense in 2015 and 2016. “There’s a lot of widespread changes that are going to happen. There needs to be a rejuvenation and some energy pumped back in the program, and I think you’re going to see that in grades 7 through 12.”

This is the first head coaching job for Commins, 39. He’s been an assistant for 15 seasons at Ross, Oak Hills and Mount Healthy, his alma mater.

Ross athletic director Brian Gunter said Commins was selected from a pool of “close to 40” candidates.

“Kenyon was selected based on his knowledge of the game, his total dedication to our district and community, and his strategic plan to make the Ross football program successful,” Gunter said.

Commins replaced Brian Butts, who stepped down after 11 seasons at the helm. Butts has moved on to Edgewood and will be a defensive line coach on Scott Clemmons’ staff.

“There’s a very good foundation here,” Commins said. “When you look at Ross over the big haul, it’s a successful program. But at the same time, it’s not successful enough. I think the community demands better.

“I think the players need to represent the community better on the field, in the classroom and off the field. There’s no reason why our community can be that good of a place to live and our schools can be that good while our football is not so good.

“The plan to get over the hump is creating a lifetime value system for these kids. They need to know that there’s a thousand little battles within the day. All those little battles add up to winning the day, and it’s the same on the football field.

“The coaches on this staff are not going to settle for being average. Who wants to be 5-5, 6-4? I don’t want to be average in anything at all. So if you’re not giving us your best, we can’t provide the best for you either. We’re not going to compromise our expectations of all the best, all the time. That’s just the way it has to be.”

Commins was a halfback for four years at Ohio Wesleyan University. His brother Kurry is Mariemont’s head coach.

No assistant coaches have been hired yet. Commins said he’s the offensive coordinator for now, though that could change as he brings in coaches.

“I’m a power spread guy, but the offense will be adaptive to the talent we have,” Commins said. “Even being an offensive guy, I think my most important hire is who the defensive coordinator will be.

“I want to be known for defense. I want to be an attacking, relentless, downhill, fly-to-the-football team. I don’t care what we run. At the end of the day, do we run to the football? Are we relentless in our effort, and are we a good tackling football team? That’s what I want to see defensively.”

Ross quarterback Zach Arno tries to avoid Harrison defensive back Bailey Smith during their game at Ross on Sept. 16. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO BY E.L. HUBBARD
Photo: Staff Writer

He’s been teaching social studies at Oak Hills for 10 years, but will be in the building at Ross starting in the fall. His position hasn’t been finalized.

Asked about his coaching style, Commins had this to say:

“I’m an intense guy, through-the-roof intensity, but at the same time, I’m a love-you-up type guy. At the end of the day, this is an extension of the classroom. To me, the game of football is the greatest teacher of life in the world. I don’t think you get anything accomplished by hollering and screaming and going crazy. But I am absolutely relentless when it comes to perfection and giving your best.”

Commins said his wife Monica and their three children are “all in” as he embarks on a new beginning in his life.

“My wife is the greatest thing that’s ever happened in my life, bar none,” Commins said. “She’s the driving force behind everything I do.”

Butts is happy that Commins got hired and said he’ll continue to root for the Rams … except when they play Edgewood.

“I think he’ll do a fantastic job,” Butts said. “(Resigning was) something I needed to do for myself and something I think just needed to be done for the program. It’s good for both of us. Kenyon’s going to do things his own way, and he should. Hopefully he revives that program and gets it going in the right direction.”

Butts said he’s been rejuvenated in his move to Edgewood, where he’s coaching junior high track in addition to football. He’s still teaching at Ross through Butler Tech, but is anticipating a switch to Edgewood in the fall.

“I’ve been so impressed with the kids at Edgewood and the way they work and the way they’ve accepted me in,” said Butts, whose daughter Lauren is a freshman at Edgewood. “I’m sure at some point I’ll miss being a head coach, but right now I don’t, and I’m not sure if I ever want to be a head coach again. Right now, I’m enjoying the assistant’s gig.”

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