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Powell leaves SOU for North Medford post

After 19 years with the Raiders, the offensive line coach looks forward to leading prep players

Tom Powell took a job at North Medford High a week ago, but on Monday he was still cleaning out his office at McNeal Pavilion.

Spend 20 years in one place and it takes a while to pack.

Powell, 48, who was about to embark on his 20th season as an assistant coach for the Southern Oregon University football team, has already started his new life at North Medford. He is the Black Tornado offensive coordinator, a position he held at SOU in 1988 and 2004.

He accepted the job last Monday. On Tuesday night, he walked onto the SOU practice field. The Raiders were there, but so was North Medford. The teams were about to scrimmage when Powell let the players know.

That was the first time that anybody knew, really, besides (SOU head coach) Shay (McClure) and the coaches (at SOU), Powell said while cleaning out his office Monday. It was kind of disbelief at first. Some thought I was joking.

— Powell was set to coach the Raiders' offensive line this season. Those duties will now be taken over by Marciano Garcia, Powell said. Garcia was a four-year starter at right tackle for the Raiders before making his coaching debut last season. Powell believes Garcia is ready for the challenge.

He's been working with the guys all summer and he's ready to get a shot, Powell said. It'll be exciting.

Though going from college assistant to high school assistant may seem like a step down, Powell said he's always had a desire to coach and teach at the high school level. He applied for another prep head coaching position prior to getting the North job, but eventually turned it down. Ideally, he said, he would have resigned as assistant coach at SOU, but stayed on and continued with his other duties, which included directing 10 club sports, the school's Outdoor Program, a 32-event intramural program and the award-winning National Youth Sports Program.

When the opportunity to coach at North Medford presented itself, however, Powell said it was too good to pass up.

I've been very fortunate, he said. I've been at the college level for 25 years, so I've never had that opportunity to coach at a high school, and going to many games at (North Medford's) Spiegelberg Stadium over the last 20 years, it's an exciting venue. And, it's refreshing to be around high school kids.

I've been around that age group with NYSP — and football camps and, gosh, I just think that at this point I needed something to kind of catapult me into the home stretch.

Southern Oregon women's tennis coach Gail Patton will take over as intramural and club sports director, SOU athletic director Dennis Francois said Monday.

Powell isn't planning on revamping North Medford's offense. He already likes what the team is doing under head coach Rod Rumrey. The two have similar philosophies, Powell said. Both like to keep it simple, both believe in establishing the run behind a physical offensive line to set up play action and both like to have a 50-50 split between the run and the pass on first down.

Powell is planning on installing a few wrinkles, but nothing major.

Some of the flavor that we've given the SOU offense over the last eight years, some of the things we've done was not so much adding plays, but just changing formations and motion, Powell said. That's what we can plug right in and not miss a beat.

Powell leaves SOU with a mountain of memories. The playoff teams were special, he said, and so were the players. He still keeps track of former offensive linemen by e-mail. Thirty, he says, have become coaches themselves.

He let most of those players know of his recent move by e-mail.

I really haven't had any regrets, yet, he said. It's just been a real positive outpouring and I'm kind of ready to get on with this next phase of my life.

Joe Zavala is sports editor of the Ashland Daily Tidings. Reach him at 482-3456.