Jake Owens path is far from the traditional one to Kentucky.
Most people leave the Bluegrass for warmer weather and beaches to go to the Sunshine State of Florida. Owens is headed the other way.
He’s headed up to Taylor Mill to take on the head football coaching job at Scott High, a vacant position when Eric Turner resigned in December after four seasons at the helm.
“We set up a checklist with the things we wanted in a coach without looking at names. We had a nice spreadsheet with all of our applicants then we decided, not looking at names, who we wanted to interview. So we pulled off the names and saw who they were and these were the people we decided to interview and he was one of them,” Scott Athletic Director Casey Fisk said. “If I were in my right mind, I probably would not have said, ‘Let’s call a guy from Florida,’ because how does a guy from Florida end up here? Who’s the staff going to be? He doesn’t know anybody here. So obviously, that was a that was a concern we had with Mr. Yanke and myself, we started to dig a little bit and looked at the four candidates we had and talked to some people and got some information. Through that, we found out that he wasn’t moving up here because of a job. He was moving up here regardless of the job. So that sort of took that off the plate.”
Owens heads up from Melbourne, Florida where he coached at Palm Bay the prior two seasons, guiding the Pirates to an 8-4 record in 2022. Prior to his two-year stint at Palm Bay, Owens coached at Space Coast High School. He’s been in coaching for 20 years.
“Both of those programs when I took them over, they were one-win teams the season before,” Owens said. “So both of them consisted of rebuilding a foundation and build the program from the foundation up.”
Owens passion of Cincinnati Bengals football brought him up to the area annually for eight Sunday’s a year the past 20 years, a season ticket holder at Paul Brown and now known as Paycor Stadium.
“My first game was the freezer bowl when I was five and I just fell in love with the Bengals. I don’t know if it was their cool helmets or whatever, but I’ve been a Cincinnati Bengals fan ever since and fell in love with this area. I told my wife that one day we were going to move up here and here we are,” Owens said.
He’ll inherit a team that will have somewhat of a blank whiteboard when he walks in. The Eagles graduate 19 seniors from the 2022 team, the majority of them playing prominent roles including top rusher Bennie Hill with 1,448 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as quarterback Dasani Lane, who threw for 732 yards and 10 touchdowns. One of Lane’s top targets in Nolan Hunter is also a senior, Hunter with 24 receptions for 324 yards and five touchdowns. The top four tacklers on the team in Tim Stephenson, Aaron Cummins, Treyvon Brown and Emmanuell Mills are also seniors.
They do return top receiving target Dylan Giffen and his 26 receptions for 322 yards and six touchdowns along with Boomer Klusman, who led the team with three interceptions.
Over the last four seasons, Turner compiled a 21-22 record and won two Class 4A, 6th district titles during his tenure. The Eagles went 4-7 in the 2022 season, losing to Lexington Catholic in the first round of the playoffs. Now comes a jump to Class 5A in the latest KHSAA football realignment, the Eagles paired with Boone County, Cooper, Conner, Dixie Heights and Highlands in the Class 5A, 6th District.
“It’s very important that we build this from the bottom up. That was one of the things that we were very cognizant about as we began to look at the individuals in this process,” Scott principal Alan Yanke said. “I believe that you’re going to see this energy, you’re going to see this vision and you’re going to see a lot of great things from our new head coach Jake Owens.”
Owens plans to implement an up-tempo offense in which the goal is to be set and hike the ball within 12-15 seconds between plays and create havoc defensively by getting after the quarterback and creating turnovers.
“You always have to look at your personnel, because a lot of times it’s going to dictate what you’re going to do, but the personnel doesn’t dictate your philosophy. And what I mean by that is my philosophy on defense is, we’re going to be aggressive, we’re going to rush the passer, we’re going to create turnovers, we’re going to do everything we can to get the ball back to the offense and get them off the field as soon as we can,” Owens said. “Offensively we’re going to be fast tempo, we’ll throw the football 25, sometimes 30 times a game if we need to. I’m a quarterback, so I believe in that, but a lot of times, it’s throwing the ball to be an extension to the run game. Our offense is so open and so flexible that we’ll have a 1,000 yard rusher and we’ll have a couple 1,000 yard receivers. We can also be multiple and play smashmouth if we need to. You’re going to want to come watch our games. It’s going to be fun.”
Owens is moving to the area in about a week and a half and said he’ll be in the school building full-time from that point. He plans to continue the offseason weightlifting program before leading into spring practice and will participate in 7-on-7’s when that time rolls around in the summer. The first day of the KHSAA football season is typically around July 10.