Dan Ellis, a standout quarterback at Downingtown before its split into two high schools, has been named the football coach at West Chester East, a Ches-Mont League rival.
A graduate of Virginia, where he set several passing records, Ellis will be out to revive a Vikings program that has struggled since winning the National Division championship in '06. The Vikings were 2-9 last season and have won only four games in the past four seasons.
East supporters hope Ellis can turn the program around just as he did at Springfield (Delco), one of the smaller schools in the Central League. The Cougars were coming off a 1-10 mark when Ellis took over three seasons ago. His first year, the Cougars finished 5-6. Last season, they were 8-4.
Ellis says there is great potential in the East program. Ellis, who lives in Coatesville with his wife and children, will teach social studies at East, just as he did at Springfield.
"It's an opportunity for me to get closer to home," said Ellis, 32, who hopes to bring his brother Matt, 30, and other Springfield staff members to East with him.
As a quarterback, Ellis was noted for his passing, but he said that will not determine East's style.
"Whatever the kids can do will determine it," Ellis said. "It's not our plan to impose a system on them. Our job is to set a vision of what we want to achieve and have the kids buy into it."
East athletic director Sue Cornelius said she was glad to have Ellis on board.
"I'm excited," she said. "We have not formalized a staff yet, but we're working on it. We're not putting any pressure on Dan."
She said she hopes to see a renewal in school spirit with Ellis taking over the program.
"School spirit goes with football," she said.