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Staff file photo / Ooltewah High School graduate Goose Manning, a former Owls quarterback, is now the head football coach at his alma mater.

Goose Manning started his week painting the Tyner locker room as a Rams assistant. He's ending it as the new head football coach at Ooltewah, his alma mater.

What had already been a wild few months for prep football coaching changes in the Chattanooga area got a bit more odd Friday when Ooltewah announced that Shannon Williams, who took over the program in March, had resigned to accept a job outside of the educational field.

Fortunately for the program, Manning — a former Owls quarterback who graduated in 2011 — was still part of the school's faculty and was excited to accept the challenge of taking over at such a late juncture.

"You could definitely say this is a dream come true for me," said Manning, who coached Ooltewah's wrestling program the past four seasons but will no longer be in charge of that team. "It's going to be a challenge, no doubt, just because of the timing and we're only a few weeks from the season starting. But this is the only place I ever wanted to be. I owe a lot to this school, the faculty and coaches, and I'm just blessed to get the chance to be here.

"I was just helping the Tyner staff work on updating its locker room earlier this week, and now I'm back home to coach my alma mater. I'm as Ooltewah as it gets. When I came back after college, I had an opportunity to work in Georgia, but I decided to be a volunteer assistant at Ooltewah instead just to get my foot in the door in the building. The good thing is I already have a personal relationship with the staff and players, so that should help with the adjustment."

Scott Chandler resigned as Ooltewah's coach in February after three seasons of running the program. He was later named the head coach at Tyner, and Manning joined his staff soon after. Williams oversaw spring workouts at Ooltewah and had been in charge for just more than three months when he turned in his resignation, bringing the area's number of coaching changes since March to nine.

"I regret the timing, but this is an opportunity that I absolutely could not pass up," Williams wrote in a text message to the Times Free Press. "I want to thank our players, coaches, parents and administration for their hard work, dedication and support over the last few months. I wish the Owls football family the absolute best in the future."

Ooltewah principal Karen Hollis said the school appreciated what Williams did during his time with the Owls and wished him the best.

Although Manning — who has been with the football program for four years — has met with the coaching staff, he cannot meet with players until July 12 because of the TSSAA's annual two-week dead period in which coaches are not allowed to be in contact with student-athletes.

"Coach Manning has that relationship-building skill with players and parents that will help with this transition," Hollis said. "He's a former player who is dedicated to the school, and we are very blessed to have him. The administration is confident in his ability to lead and grow our team as both athletes and students."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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