Back in the Panther Den: Wayne Mills returns as head football coach at Knox Central

Mills returns to Knox Central as head coach

Mills returns to Knox Central as head coach

It will be a homecoming for Wayne Mills, as he returns to the Panther Den to lead the Knox Central Football program.

Mills originally took over the Panther Football team in 2004 from a struggling record. Quickly, within four years, he moved the Panthers to 9-4 and an appearance at the regional final.  He is looking forward to continuing to build on the success and great things happening in the Knox County schools.

“I love the vision that Mr. Ledford and the board have for the district. My first goal is to build relationships with players and their families,” said Mills.

He highlights the previous successes achieved through hard work, and continues to aim for the district’s vision to become top 10% in all areas, academics and athletics.

“During my first years at Knox, my staff and I, along with this community, saw success evolve. This success came from the hard work that young men put in both on the field and in the classroom.”

Mills has learned lessons from his previous coaching experiences but sees the similarities as the most important.

He explained, “I learned that kids are the same everywhere I go. They each want discipline, structure, and a relationship with mentors they can depend on for life. The world can be a difficult place, and I want our young men to know that our football program will be a place where everyone will have a chance to join a family that will always be a support system for them.”

The Panthers are a team of young men that he has had his eye on during the prior season.  He looks forward to working with them to develop the team.

“Looking at the roster, it is a very young team. Our initial plan will be to work toward player development. This will include putting time in the weight room to get stronger as well as installing the philosophy of our program.

“The way to work toward success is for everyone to buy in and row the boat in the same direction as a team. If we always keep kids as our focus, I think we will all be pleased with the outcome over time.”

Mills emphasizes the unity of the community, regardless of the specific elementary school attended by the player. By highlighting their shared identity as future Panthers, he underscores the importance of collective support and collaboration in achieving success for the team and the community as a whole.

“Our staff wants to develop men of great character by encouraging core values that will help them become successful adults who we can all be proud of.

“My family and I are so excited that Knox County is our home. We can hardly wait to cheer on all our student athletes in all their activities. Let’s all embrace the “WE not me” mentality and over time, make Knox Central relevant across the state.”

A meet and greet will be held on Monday, April 15, beginning at 5 pm in the Knox Central library. All of Panther Nation (players, students, family, and community) are invited to attend.

Mills family photos

Wayne and wife Cathy are 1989 graduates of Knox Central. They reside in Knox County. They have four children. Their daughter Elizabeth and son in law Zack are parents to 5 year old Easton and 1 year old Ellery. Their daughter Meghan and son in law JD are expecting their first child in August. Their son Seth attends University of the Cumberlands. Their daughter Brooke is a sophomore. Wayne and Cathy say that coaching football has been a family journey for 31 years and they are so thankful the journey continues at Knox Central.