Some six weeks after Wesley Tankersley stepped down to take the head coaching position at Stephens County High School, the Ridgeland Panthers have looked to a Rossville native to fill the position.
Cortney Braswell, who played middle school football at Rossville, has been hired to become the eighth head football coach in the school's 29-year history.
"I'm elated," Braswell said. "It's very much coming back home for sure and I was getting a little homesick. I am truly honored and blessed to be back (in Rossville)."
Braswell, 30, was a two-time All-State running back at Baylor in Chattanooga and a Mr. Football finalist for the Red Raiders as a senior in 2004. He graduated from Baylor as the school's single-game and career rushing and scoring leader and later played college football at Liberty University.
"Ridgeland High School is excited to announce that Coach Cortney Braswell has been named head coach for the Panther football team for the 2018-19 season," Athletic Director Robert Stinson said through a press release on Wednesday morning. "Coach Braswell brings a wealth of experience, including coaching stints at Ringgold, Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge, Notre Dame, and North Murray. A native of Rossville, RHS is excited to welcome Coach Braswell home."
Braswell began his coaching career in 2009 as he coached defensive backs at Ringgold. He went on to be defensive coordinator at Soddy-Daisy, East Ridge, North Murray, Chattanooga Central and Bradley Central and was the 2014 District Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014 during his first stint with the Purple Pounders. At all of his stops, his defenses earned reputations for their stinginess and tenacity.
He also spent the 2012 season as the offensive coordinator at Chattanooga Notre Dame, where the Irish averaged over 34 points a game.
Braswell returned to Harrison in March 2016 when he was hired to be the head coach at Chattanooga Central. He guided the Pounders to the TSSAA state playoffs for two straight seasons.
This past fall, Central earned a home playoff game and claimed just the second state playoff victory for the program since 1970. They advanced to the second round where they lost to eventual state champion Greeneville.
Braswell said he felt that all of his previous coaching stops have been preparing him for this opportunity at Ridgeland.
"Experience is the best teacher," he explained. "Everything that's happened so far, good, bad or otherwise, has gotten me ready for this program and this community at this time. I have to thank the good Lord above."
He added that he wants the Panther football program to be "the epicenter" of Rossville.
"We want to unite this community and set it on fire," he said. "The growth of this community needs to start with this football program. The goal is to build better men, better husbands and better members of the community, while winning some games along the way."
Ridgeland is coming off a program-best 11-1 campaign that saw them win a second consecutive Region 6-AAAA championship, the school's sixth region crown since 2008. Tankersley was 24-10 in three seasons at Ridgeland, making the playoffs all three times and advancing to the Round of 16 the last two years.