“I’m excited,” Penwell said The Highland County Press when asked what it was like to be the new college football head coach. “I look forward to working with our student-athletes at McClain. I’m excited about our coaching staff and the knowledge they bring.
Penwell was the Tigers’ interim head coach for the final three games of Season 21. McClain finished last season 4-5 overall and 0-5 in the Frontier Athletic Conference. Prior to being McClain’s head coach, Penwell was an assistant coach on the roster, where he coached defensive backs and wide receivers, and he is also an assistant coach for the McClain baseball program.
“It was a challenge, but I think our coaching staff and our student-athletes persevered and stayed focused,” Penwell said of taking over as trainee head coach at the end. of season 21. “This experience led me to apply for the position of head coach, and I am delighted with this opportunity.
Penwell is a 1995 graduate of Edward Lee McClain High School and has been coaching with McClain since graduating in 1995.
“I’ve been coaching at McClain since I graduated from high school. I took a few years off when my kids were little,” Penwell said. “I played college baseball at OU-Chillicothe for a few years, but decided I wanted to coach instead. I graduated from Ohio University in 2000.
Penwell once coached McClain in baseball when he was 23, and he also served as McClain’s college football defensive coordinator before that.
“I was McClain’s head baseball coach when I was younger, and I was also a defensive coordinator when I was younger,” Penwell said. “I backed off when my wife had our third child. At a young age, I definitely had those aspirations (to be a head coach), and I’m excited about the opportunity now.”
Becoming McClain’s head football coach was a long journey for Penwell, as he had many people he looked up to and learned from along the way.
“I had great mentors and coaches throughout my career at McClain. Dan Raike and Tim Gossett are two of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with,” Penwell said. “I was lucky to have played for them and coached with them. Troy Dawson and Scott Hurtt were great coaches at McClain when I was playing.
“Steve Roads, Bob Bergstrom and John Wend were coaches I played for and learned from. All of these coaches have helped create the life path I have taken. Some other coaches I have worked with and learned from are Randy Closson and John Penwell. We always talk about football all the time.
Being a varsity head coach is not the same as being an assistant coach because running the program takes on a whole new meaning, and Penwell spoke about the differences.
“The biggest difference for me is overseeing the overall responsibility of running the whole football program, looking at the big picture,” he said. “As an assistant, I was a specialist and I didn’t have to deal with all the situations that arose during the season.”
Being the college football coach at his alma mater is special for Penwell.
“Being McClain’s head coach is very special to me. I love our community, our school system and our student-athletes,” he said. “I am a loyal McClain Tiger. I haven’t been anywhere else, and there’s no place I’d rather be.
“I am thrilled to lead the McClain Tiger football program. I look forward to working with our student-athletes, coaching staff and our community.
Penwell teaches sixth grade science at Greenfield Middle School. Penwell has a wife, Vanessa, and three children: Kendall Penwell (in middle school), Kaden Penwell (high school sophomore), and Kamden Penwell (sixth grade).