High School Sports

Auburn hires new football coach, and he’s not the next Gordy Elliott

Gig Harbor head coach Aaron Chantler waits for the final whistle after his Tides demolished the Seahawks of Peninsula High School at the 37th edition of the Fishbowl at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy Friday Aug. 4, 2015.
Gig Harbor head coach Aaron Chantler waits for the final whistle after his Tides demolished the Seahawks of Peninsula High School at the 37th edition of the Fishbowl at Roy Anderson Field in Purdy Friday Aug. 4, 2015. Staff photographer

Aaron Chantler was straightforward.

He was being interviewed for the position of head football coach at Auburn High School to replace since-retired 16-year coach Gordon Elliott – who happens to be Chantler’s father-in-law.

“I said, ‘If you’re looking for the next Gordy Elliott, you can’t hire me,’” Chantler said. “You are never going to find another Gordy. That’s a fruitless search.

“But if you want the guy who is going to come in here and have his own resume and credentials and way of doing things and is willing to step in and not be nervous about taking over for those shoes – not to sound like a cocky thing, but I’ve done this.”

That’s, indeed, what Auburn was looking for.

The school announced Thursday that it has hired Chantler to take over, getting him back into the head-coaching ranks two years after he last coached at Gig Harbor High School.

Things will be fast. As fast as Chantler talks and works, that’s just as fast as he likes his offenses to run.

His offense averaged 45 points per game in 2015, when he had former TNT All-Area player of the year and quarterback Davis Alexander.

Chantler was 36-18 in five years there, with two league titles, a 4A Narrows League coach of the year honor and four consecutive state appearances.

He resigned and found a home at Auburn, where he spent this past season under Elliott as his offensive coordinator. Though the offense was still based on Elliott’s jet-sweep principles.

“Our defense will look similar, but offense will look night and day from each other,” Chantler said. “We will try a high-flying tempo, spread it out, play basketball on the football field as much as we can like we were doing at Gig Harbor.”

Elliott retired from coaching in October after 42 years of total head-coaching experience, including at the University of Puget Sound. Chantler said Elliott will stay on as his defensive coordinator.

So last year Chantler was coordinating for Elliott and next year Elliott will coordinate for Chantler.

“I’m sure it will be an adjustment,” Chantler laughed. “It will be a transition on so many levels.”

His daughter, Jenna, and Aaron, who graduated from Wilson High School, married each other six years ago.

Elliott’s other daughter, Amanda, is married to Curtis coach Chris Paulson.

“I am excited to work with Aaron Chantler as his coaching philosophy is aligned with the needs of our student athletes,” Auburn athletic director Katie Henry said in a press release. “He will be able to build on the strong program already established at AHS, and create a team that is respected for their football, as well as their character.”

Chantler knows Auburn’s history. He’s following two beloved coaches in Elliott and the late Bob Jones before that.

“When I got the call last night, I was pretty excited,” Chantler said. “Between Gordy and Bob Jones, that’s a great legacy and it’s an honor to have my name now associated with those two guys and follow in their footsteps.

“One of the things we were doing at Gig Harbor was establishing that idea of a legacy and the idea of being more than just about football.

“We have a great athletic director. Katie is awesome. I wanted to be at a place where the athletic director was supportive and understands the balance between education and sports and how that dichotomy works together. She’s going to be awesome to work for.”

TJ Cotterill: 253-597-8677

@TJCotterill

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