• 57°

Ishee in successful return to sidelines

Ray Ishee’s return to the sidelines proved to be extremelysuccessful. Ishee coached the Brookhaven Academy Cougars to an 11-2record this season, their most-ever wins, plus a runners-up finishin the District 4-AA race and a berth in the state playoffs.

That level of success has earned Ishee The DailyLeader’s Co-Coach of the Year in Lincoln County.

Ishee had been out of coaching for 11 years but he missed beingon the sidelines. He served as Dean of Student Services atCopiah-Lincoln Community College during that period. His decisionto return to coaching wasn’t difficult.

“The coaching part and fooling with kids is what I reallyenjoy,” said Ishee. “It’s a hands-on situation. I really enjoyed itand it was a lot of fun.”

Ishee replaced Doug Clanton at the BA helm. Ishee didn’t havethe opportunity to coach his new team during spring practice so thesummer weight training program was the first chance to getacquainted.

“We had some good kids with a lot of character and that made itmore enjoyable,” said Ishee. He said he was able to hire anexperience coach in Paul Anderson from Jackson Prep who was incharge of the offense.

“Getting Paul on our staff really helped,” said Ishee. “We hadRon Rushing who worked real well with kids; and Neal King helpingus and doing a good job, too.”

One of the keys to BA’s success was the transition of Ben Davisfrom running back to quarterback. Jake Sessums, the DL’s2000 Player of the Year, had led the team in rushing and passinghis senior season.

“Ben Davis made the move to quarterback,” said Ishee. “He camethrough and really did a good job for us. We used him as a spotplayer at cornerback, too. Ben worked hard all summer to besuccessful.”

Ishee said the senior class set the example. “Chase Magee, ChadLagrone, Jeffrey Waycaster and all the other seniors really came onand were good leaders for us.

“Our kids came together and really developed into a goodfootball team by the end of the year.”

Ishee said he feels confident about the future. “We have 12 or13 juniors coming back who can put it together. Up front we shouldbe just as good or better. We must replace some skill folks.

“We are looking forward to spring and working on fundamentals.Hopefully we can come back and just reload.”

Ishee, 54, graduated from Taylorsville High School in 1966. Hewas a standout linebacker for Jones County Junior College and DeltaState University.

Ishee spent five years as head coach at Co-Lin. He served sixyears as defensive coordinator at Co-Lin before replacing James”Booty” Sloan at the helm.

The first campaign as head coach was memorable for Ishee and hisCo-Lin team. The Wolves won a state championship and the East Bowlin 1985. They would win South Division titles in 1986 and 1989.

Ishee is married to the former Rhonda Wilson of Brookhaven. Theyhave two grown children. Brad is a pharmacist in Madison and he hastwo sons. Marci is a senior at Millsaps, majoring in biology

Ishee also serves as high school principal at BrookhavenAcademy. “It’s just been fun. It’s a real good environment for thekids to go to school in,” said Ishee.