Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the outside Looking In

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

On the outside Looking In

Article excerpt

How long has Ellis McSwain coached high school football?

He's not sure exactly, but when asked, his answer pretty much

gives it away.

"Hmmmm," McSwain replied and followed that with a slight pause.

"Years," he continued, now sounding surprised by his response.

"It's been more than 20 years."

For the last two years, McSwain had been the head varsity

football coach at Paxon High, where he compiled a 2-18 record.

He would have been the coach this year, but when Paxon become a

college prep school, the varsity program was cut because of a

lack of eligible players.

So, for the first time in more than 20 years, McSwain is not

among the area high school coaches walking the sidelines Friday


Instead, he will be in the stands with the rest of the fans.

McSwain spent his first Friday at Raines' home-opener against

Parker where he saw his former quarterback Carl Nesmith, one of

the best in the city last year and now at Raines, throw two

interceptions and fumble twice in an 18-14 loss.

"It was new being up there and not with Carl," McSwain said.

"He and I have been close since he was in the 9th grade."

Most of the players from last year's Paxon team transferred to

Raines while senior defensive back Bernard Brown Lee went to Lee.

"I will split time between seeing them play," McSwain said.

"Those kids meant a lot to me."

Nesmith and McSwain, in particular, have formed a bond dating

back to one of their first encounters with each other.

"It was when I was in the ninth grade," Nesmith remembers. " I

got into a fight with one of my teammates and he pulled me


What McSwain told Nesmith next left a sharp impression in his


"He told me I was going to be his quarterback," Nesmith said.

"Then he told me to go out to the middle of the field and do

push-ups until the sun caught a cold. It was like 90 degrees out

there and I was doing all these push-ups. …

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