Sean McElhaney was named the interim head football coach at Molalla earlier this month.
But sitting in the same classroom he has taught in for the last 25 years, the long-time science teacher and assistant coach says he hopes to remain at Molalla beyond the 2019 season.
"They hired me as an interim. I'm going to ignore that," McElhaney says. "I would like to be here 10 years from now. My goal is to get this to what I've seen it almost be, and if head coaches would have stayed another three years, what I think it would have been. There's towns that you know are football towns and Molalla has always had that potential and I've always seen it and we've never had anyone stay long enough to do it."
McElhaney is the third head football coach at Molalla in the last four years, following Grant Boustead and Tim Baker.
"There's no way to have consistency," McElhaney says. "Every year you're building a football team but you're never building a football program."
McElhaney was born in Southern California but moved to The Dalles in the third grade. A 1983 graduate, he played center and nose guard for The Dalles High School.
"I was average, nothing special," McElhaney says of his playing days. "I was a center and a nose guard because if you got me too far away from the ball I couldn't react fast enough. I had to either be hiking the ball or right on the ball to be able to know when it was moving."
After high school, McElhaney earned a bachelor's degree in Entomology (the study of insects) at Oregon State. He then worked as a field biologist in the Molalla area for the Bureau of Land Management for four years until budget cuts forced him to make a career change.
Going back to school, McElhaney received his teaching license from Western Oregon. After a year of student teaching and coaching at Woodburn High School, he joined the Molalla faculty as a science teacher and football coach in 1994.
McElhaney says he coached nearly every position on both offense and defense over the next 12 years before finding his home at defensive coordinator.
However, McElhaney left the Molalla coaching staff after the 2007 season to become an assistant at league rival Gladstone.
After three years coaching at Gladstone and six at Colton High School, McElhaney returned to Molalla for the 2017 season as the defensive coordinator with head coach Tim Baker.
When Baker resigned following last season, McElhaney served on the search committee. But after McElhaney says two applicants turned the job down, he was offered the position without an interview.
McElhaney says he too turned down the Molalla head coaching job in 2006 after Baker left the first time. He was not going to make the same mistake again. McElhaney says he just needed 24 hours to think about it.
Ultimately he says it came down to bringing consistency to a program that will now have its sixth coach since 2002.
But McElhaney, who along with teaching at Molalla for the last 25 years also served on the city council for nine, already has a relationship with most of the players in the football program.
"There's no reason why we can't have a dominant football team in Molalla," McElhaney says. "I've seen it here. I just know as you change coaches, it does not allow you to keep that program going."
McElhaney has two kids at Colton Middle School but he says both plan to transfer to Molalla for high school, including Atticus, a seventh grader and football player.
"I have personal interest," McElhaney says. "I would love to bring him into a program that is running the way I want it to run."
McElhaney believes too many former coaches saw Molalla as a stepping stone to what they perceived as a better job.
"We've had some coaches who were not really about Molalla," McElhaney says. "They were about themselves. They wanted to get the team as good as they could over four years and then get a job at a 5A school or a 6A school.
"I disagree with that mentality. I think Molalla is as good a community and can be as good a football team as any place in the state. And I don't think you should be coaching some place unless you have that feeling. That's not who I am and I hope the community can see that."
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