Edmonton finalizes coaching staff for 2021

EDMONTON — The Edmonton Football Team has officially finalized their 2021 coaching staff, the team announced on Wednesday.

Leading the staff is first year CFL head coach Jaime Elizondo. Along with his head coaching duties, Elizondo will also serve as the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The full 2021 staff consists of:

  • Jaime Elizondo – head coach / offensive coordinator / quarterbacks coach
  • Noel Thorpe – assistant head coach / defensive coordinator / defensive backs coach
  • AJ Gass – special teams coach / linebackers coach
  • Winston October – passing game coordinator / wide receivers coach
  • Demetrious Maxie – defensive line coach
  • John McDonell – offensive line coach
  • Chris Rippon – assistant to the head coach / special teams assistant
  • James Vollono – running backs coach
  • Derek Oswalt – defensive assistant
  • Vincent Campbell – offensive assistant

Jaime Elizondo brings over 20 years of coaching expertise to the EE Football Team with stops at the CFL, NFL, XFL, College, and high school level. He rose to CFL coaching prominence as the offensive coordinator of the Ottawa REDBLACKS from 2016-2018, appearing in two Grey Cups in three years and winning one (2016). Offences coached by Elizondo have a reputation for being prolific and spreading the ball around. In his first season as REDBLACKS OC, he led an offence which saw four receivers eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. In Elizondo’s final season with Ottawa, three REDBLACKS receivers eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark, William Powell rushed for 1,362 yards, and current Edmonton quarterback Trevor Harris set a career high for passing yards with 5,116.

Elizondo’s most recent coaching stint was with the Tampa Bay Vipers of the XFL, where he served as offensive coordinator under former CFL and NFL head coach Marc Trestman. After taking over play calling duties in week 3, the Vipers averaged over 29 points a game on offence for the remainder of the season. This will be his first season as a CFL head coach.

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Noel Thorpe enters his 18th season as a CFL coach and his ninth as a defensive coordinator having previously held the role with both the Ottawa REDBLACKS and the Montreal Alouettes. Prior to his work in the CFL, Thorpe coached in Canada at the U SPORTS level at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, and the University of Montreal. During his CFL career, he has appeared in five Grey Cups (four with Montreal and one with Ottawa).

AJ Gass returns for his third year as Edmonton’s special teams coach. Gass will also serve as the team’s linebackers coach, the position he held as a player with the team from 1998-2007. His coaching career began as a defensive assistant with the Green and Gold in 2008, before holding head coaching roles for Servite high school (2013-14) and Garces high school (2015-2018) in his home state of California.

Winston October returns as the team’s wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. The former Edmonton receiver has 14 years of coaching experience, primarily serving as a wide receivers coach. October has spent the last three years coaching in the CFL – first as a member of the Ottawa REDBLACKS (2018-2019) prior to joining the Edmonton Football Team’s staff last year.

Demetrious Maxie is entering his sixth year on Edmonton’s coaching staff and his fourth as defensive line coach. Following a 13-year CFL playing career where he was a two-time league all-star, Maxie began his coaching career as a defensive line/linebackers coach at his alma mater, the University of Texas El Paso. His CFL coaching career began with the BC Lions as a guest coach in 2013 before eventually joining Edmonton in 2016 as a linebackers coach.

John McDonell returns as Edmonton’s offensive line coach for 2021. He brings over 15 years of offensive line coaching experience at the NCAA level with stops at Washington State, Stanford, Notre Dame, Purdue, Bowling Green, Memphis, Idaho, and Tulane. Prior to joining the Green and Gold, McDonnell served as the Ottawa REDBLACKS offensive line coach from 2018-2019.

Chris Rippon joins the Edmonton Football Team as the assistant to the head coach and special teams assistant. He brings 37 years of college coaching experience with involvement in all three phases of the game. Rippon’s resume includes stops at the University of Mississippi, Marshall University, Rutgers University, and Syracuse University. The 2021 season will be Rippon’s first year coaching north of the border.

James Vollono is entering his first year among the CFL coaching ranks. The Mississippi State University grad began his coaching career with his alma mater as a Special Teams Assistant from 2013-2016. He would spend a year with The University of Georgia before joining Florida International University as Special Teams Coordinator/Tight End Coach from 2017-2020. This will be Vollano’s first year as a running backs coach.

Derek Oswalt is back as the team’s defensive assistant, a position he has held since 2019. He originally joined the Edmonton after spending the 2018 season as the University of Calgary Dino’s special teams coordinator. Oswalt began his CFL coaching career in 2012 as a defensive assistant for the Edmonton Football Team, before spending four seasons with the Ottawa REDBLACKS in various defensive coaching roles.

Vincent Campbell joins the Edmonton Football Team as an offensive assistant having held the same role with Simon Fraser University. Campbell was also an offensive assistant and special teams assistant with the Ottawa REDBLACKS in 2019.

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