Sixteen years ago, Cecil Ray Cossey was a stand-out tight end for the Hamburg Lions. Today, he is the head coach.
Cossey, 34, is replacing Mike Cox who took the head coach job at Camden-Fairview after Buck James left Camden-Fairview to become the offensive line coach at Little Rock Christian Academy.
While at Hamburg, Cossey was a member of the 1997 state runner-up team and a KARK Friday Night Lights All Star. He excelled in the classroom as well, graduating as co-valedictorian with a 4.0 grade point average.
Cossey comes home to Hamburg after coaching at 5-A South Garland High School in Texas, Hot Springs High School, Parkway High School in Bossier City, La., and Northwood High School in Shreveport, La. where he helped create a new power spread offensive system that he’s bringing to Hamburg.
“We didn’t create anything in the offense but we kind of combined it in a unique way so that we got the benefits of the Wing T run game while staying in the shotgun and getting the benefits of the traditional spread passing game,” Cossey explained. “It’s an exciting brand of football. I think the fans are going to be excited.”
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While the defense will be very similar to what Hamburg fans are accustomed to seeing, the offense will be the opposite, Cossey said.
“We may never get under the center all year long,” Cossey said. “We may take every snap in the shotgun. We’re going to have players all over the field. We’re going to be throwing it a lot but we will run the football. We’re not going to be a finesse spread. In fact, in our playbook what we’ve titled this offense is the power spread. We want to run the football but we’re going to throw it more than what the Lions fans are used to seeing in recent years.”
Cossey described the offensive system as more like a Gus Malzahn or Clemson offense than a Baylor offense.
“We want to pound the football,” he said. “We’ll play a lot of tight end sets but we’ll be in the shotgun and throwing it around as well.”
While all of the Lions’ starting positions are still open, Cossey said he is very excited about the potential Trey Miller has shown.
Miller, a senior with some experience at quarterback, reminds Cossey of Brandon Harris, a quarterback Cossey coached at Parkway High School. Harris is now competing as a freshman for the starting quarterback position at LSU.
“Trey is an accurate passer but he’s also a great runner with natural running back instincts,” Cossey said. “Having a dual threat quarterback like that reminds me of Brandon Harris. He doesn’t have the throwing talent Brandon Harris did but his running ability reminds me a lot of Brandon and that really puts the pressure on the defense to have to guard against both the pass and the run when your quarterback can run like Trey Miller.”
While he is excited about the potential of some of the younger quarterbacks like Stetson Selby and Grant Rambo, Cossey said he is counting on Miller to be the starting quarterback.
He’s also looking for big things from offensive lineman Jeremiah Williams, “a natural leader with a great work ethic who happens to be really talented”, and wide receiver Joe Johnson who may benefit more from the offensive change than anyone.
“In the single wing he may not have been featured as much, but I look for big things from Joe Johnson at wide receiver this year,” Cossey said. “He’s got a great body and great attitude as well.”
Cossey said he also has a very promising junior, defensive back and wide receiver Lorenzo Watkins. “He’s got all of the physical tools that coaches want.”
“It’s exciting to be able to come to a place with talent and, more importantly, kids that the community has already rallied around,” Cossey said. “We’re ready to put some pads on and get to work.”
In the classroom, Cossey will be teaching algebra.
A Bodenhamer Fellow at the University of Arkansas, Cossey earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer engineering, graduating magna cum laude. He also earned a Master of Arts in Teaching at the University of Arkansas and was certified in secondary math and physical education and health.
Upon graduation from the University of Arkansas, Cossey’s high school football coach Mickey Moss, who left Hamburg to coach at 5-A South Garland High School in Texas, gave Cossey his first coaching job. As the freshmen offensive coordinator and varsity assistant coach, Cossey helped guide the 2004-05 freshmen teams to a 15-0 record and guided his 2004-05 Algebra I class to the highest TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) scores in the entire school district.
Two years later, Bill Timmons, another former Hamburg football coach, offered Cossey a job at Hot Springs High School where he could coach and utilize his computer engineering degree as a computer programmer in the superintendent’s office.
“I never would have thought I would ever leave 5-A Texas because that’s great football, but for me and my wife — I was engaged at the time — to get a pay raise and live in beautiful Hot Springs was a good opportunity for us,” Cossey said.
At Hot Springs, Cossey was the varsity offensive coordinator and quarterback and running back coach. While there, he helped the school break a 28-game losing streak dating back to 2003 and helped lead the team to back-to-back state powerlifting championships.
Meanwhile, his computer technology position at the Hot Springs School District evolved into The Learning Institute, a private educational technology company that helps districts prepare for state testing. “We did so well and some of our ideas were catching on so well that it went private,” Cossey explained.
When the company went private Cossey was faced with a difficult career decision. Since he would no longer be a school district employee, he had to choose between coaching and the lead software engineer position for The Learning Institute.
“It was probably the toughest decision, career-wise, I had ever been faced with in my young life,” Cossey said. “Because we were starting a family and my wife had just stopped teaching, I got out of coaching for two years.”
But Cossey missed coaching.
He began searching for a way to coach and keep his job with The Learning Institute. He found his solution in Louisiana where he could coach football at Parkway High School in Bossier City and keep his position with The Learning Institute, working remotely from Louisiana.
At Parkway, Cossey was the freshmen offensive coordinator and assistant coach to then-Parkway head coach Chris Hill. While there, Parkway set a school record for points scored and had the second highest completion percentage in state history. He also helped lead a freshmen team that had gone 0-20 in middle school to an 8-2 record. Those freshmen would later play for a state championship as seniors.
From Parkway, Cossey went to Northwood High School in Shreveport where he and the coaching staff would create their own version of a power spread offensive system combining Cossey’s experience in the traditional spread and another coach’s experience in the Wing T and I offense.
Utilizing that system, they led the team to its first back-to-back district championships in school history, the first playoff win in over 10 years and set school records for points scored in a single season while having a nearly 50-50 run to pass ratio.