By Jason Brassell
It’s a new day at Russell County High School, and that new day is filled with excitement for anyone and everyone involved with the athletic programs at the school. The football players, parents, and fans are excited to have Mark Rose in place to lead the Warrior football team, while the administrators and coaches are glad to welcome him as their new athletic director.
That name may be familiar to many around here, as Rose led the Smiths Station football program from 2008-2013.
Rose is as happy as he can be to get back to the area, especially since he’ll get to spend a lot of time with his children and grandchildren, who all live nearby. He also had very good things to say about working with the existing coaches at Russell County as the athletic director, and especially about working with Dr. Brenda Coley, the superintendent of the Russell County School District.
“Dr. Coley is the finest administrator that I’ve dealt with in my 28 years of coaching,” Rose said. “She has a great heart for the kids of Russell County, and so do I. That is what clicked for us.”
It is evident that both Rose and Coley are big on helping the kids of Russell County and truly care about them.
Rose has a rich football history, grounded in hard work and winning. He was a four-year letterman under Coach Pat Dye at Auburn University, where he helped the team win three SEC Championships. He was a starting offensive guard on the 1989 championship team.
While he had a very successful tenure as a player, he also has a knack for turning football programs around as a head coach. The first time this happened was when he took over the Tallassee High School football program in 1998. Rose led Tallassee to a 7-5 record in his first year at the helm. The second season went even better, with Tallassee finishing the regular season undefeated at 10-0 and finishing the playoffs with a 13-1 record. After Tallassee came North Jackson High School, where Rose boasted an overall record of 85-15. He finished there with seven region titles and as state championship runner-up in 2002.
He was at North Jackson until 2008, when he took over the Smiths Station football program. The team had made it to the playoffs only one time in 10 years. Under Rose’s leadership, they made it three times in six years. His last team at Smiths Station in 2013 made it to the third round of the playoffs. He then had another stint at North Jackson from 2014-2018, going 11-1 in his last year.
Rose is looking at navigating the same type of turnaround at Russell County.
“We’re here to win. We’ve won everywhere we’ve been,” Rose said. “I feel like we have a solid foundation from Coach Dwight Jones. He did a fine job here. He has been a really good friend and has been helpful.”
Rose also talked about how helpful Dr. Coley has been in his first few weeks at the helm.
“Dr. Coley has been instrumental in helping us hit the ground running. We’ve hired a great team so far for our football program, and we’re looking forward to the future.”
Only time will tell what the future holds for Rose, the Russell County football program, and the other athletic programs, but if the past is any indication it will involve the following: working very hard on the field, in the weight room, and in the classroom, having a tough, hard-nosed football team, giving the other athletic programs 110 percent support. In Rose’s time so far, he has had the team hitting the weight room and the classroom. He’s hired a few staff members and will be looking at bringing more on in the near future. He has also scheduled a spring game at home against Loachapoka on May 17, at 7 p.m. ET. He is very excited about using this first scrimmage as a springboard to a successful future for the Russell County football program.