Carry-over effect: Ellis hopes gridiron glory translates to the hardwood

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Sports

December 30, 2016 - 12:00 AM

When Marty Taylor left the Iola School System last summer to move to Las Vegas — where his son, Brett, is attending college at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas — it left a huge coaching void on both the high school and middle school levels.
The middle school was hit the hardest, however. Taylor was the head coach for football, girls’ basketball and boys’ basketball.
The Ponies turned to Taylor’s former assistant coach Scott Ellis to take over the football and boys’ basketball program and halfway through his first year of running things, Ellis and his group of kids have been wildly successful.
“Stepping into Coach Taylor’s shoes is not an easy task to do,” Ellis said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to fully do that.”
After going undefeated as seventh-graders under Taylor, the eighth-grade Ponies accomplished the same feat under Ellis and capped off unblemished middle school careers.
The seventh-grade football team also had a strong season with Ellis at the helm and finished with a winning record.
“Expectations are still there to work hard and play hard,” Ellis said.
Now as Ellis enters his first go-around as the Ponies’ head basketball coach, he is excited to see that winning mentality translate to the basketball court.
“It helps a lot,” Ellis said of working with most of the kids during football season. “I know they work hard and they know what my expecations are.”
This season’s eighth-grade team only lost a handful of games last season as seventh graders and Ellis is confident that group can build on that success.
Anytime Isaac Badders is on a Ponies’ roster, regardless of sport, he is a headliner but the eighth-grade group is flush with talent around Badders.
“They are all athletic boys, especially that eighth-grade group,” Ellis said. “Whether it is a football or a basketball that they have in their hands, they have the ability to be successful in whatever sport they are in.”
Logan Brown, Drake Sellman, Kole RogersJosh Kaufman, Dillon Bycroft, Bradyn Cole and several others all made major impacts of the football field during the team’s undefeated run and they all have the athleticism to help on the hardwood as well.
Jack Adams, Nathan Louk and Riley Jay were all standout performers for the cross country team this season and they only add to the talented core that Ellis has at his disposal.
The seventh-graders are always a mystery early on to a coach, because this will be all of their first seasons on the middle school level, but just like in football, Ellis has high hopes for group because of their athtic ability.
“It’ll be a learning experience for everyone,” Ellis said.
T.J. Taylor, Sam Fager,  Karson Sigg and others were all big-time playmakers during football season and will be counted on again during the winter months.
Trenton Varney, Brett Willis and Brett Morrison were al top runners for the cross country team and look to add even more speed to the mix.
“We’ve got alot of athletic boys out and we are optimistic about the season,” Ellis said.
The season opens on Thursday at home against Santa Fe Trail.

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