MANASSAS –?On a hazy Monday morning, Jim Powell was barking out instructions to his offensive unit, just like he had for three decades at Stonewall Jackson. Only this time, he was wearing a blue Osbourn Park cap.
“When you’re in practice or a game, you better not be looking up in the stands or just talking to each other,” Powell yelled at his offensive linemen. “Get in a pre-stance, look at your target or you’re gonna be running all night.”
Let go after a 0-10 record last season with the Raiders –?his 26th as head coach -?Powell was hired this spring to take over for Chuck Hornfeck as the Yellow Jackets’ offensive line coach. After serving as OP’s head coach for 14 seasons, Hornfeck came back on as an assistant coach for the past two years before retiring this year.
While Hornfeck was well respected by members of the team, Powell has made an impact on the players in his first day as assistant coach.
“He’s intense,” senior offensive lineman Dustin Diaz said. “We lost coach [Shawn] Scales, so we lost some of that intensity and motivation. [Coach] Powell brings it right back.”
“He taught me a lot just in five minutes,” junior center Kevin Simpson said. “He taught me more knowledge, as far as what I needed to do as a center. And he knows every position on the line.”
OP head coach Brian Beaty said Powell’s experience allows him to delegate responsibilities to the veteran coach without hesitation.
“There’s nothing that I don’t feel confident about with Jim,” said Beaty, who coached under Powell at Stonewall in the mid 1980s. “We got a veteran coach, and I am sure a whole lot of people wish they had him on their staff.”
Even after coaching for 30 years, Powell said he’s going through a learning period. Practically from the day he was hired, Powell has met with Beaty or spent time in the weight room to help condition the players. With Stonewall Jackson, he ran more of a pro-style or I-formation, two-back offense. With OP, they will be running the single-wing offense, a shotgun formation that relies heavily on misdirection and trickery.
Last season, the Yellow Jackets were very successful with the offense, winning the Cedar Run District title and producing the area’s fourth-leading rusher in Roland Hilliard [1,360 yards].
“It’s been a mental adjustment for me,” said the 52-year-old Powell. “All spring and summer, I sat down and looked at the film and they [the OP coaching staff] helped me a lot.”
After being a head coach for 26 seasons, Powell said taking on diminished duties does nothing to bruise his ego.
“I just want to be part of this staff,” Powell said. “I never had too much of an ego [as a head coach]. The job title didn’t mean that much as long as we had success.”
And he harbors no ill feelings towards the administration at Stonewall for letting him go. He’s just excited about his new gig.
“I hope to be intense out there because I want us to be really good,” said Powell, who guided the Raiders to nine playoff appearances and four district titles. He also won 137 games. “I want us to do things right. I am a practice guy. I am not going to outcoach anybody, I just want to outwork them.”
“I know what type of coach Jim is and when I got the opportunity to bring him on, I jumped at that opportunity,” Beaty said.