Staff
Head Coach
Dane Damron

Dane Damron will enter his third season at the helm of the football program at UVa-Wise in 2018. In his first two seasons, he has guided the program to its first winning record since 2008 while posting an overall record of 11-11. It marks the first time the program has been .500 or better over a two-year span since the team posted a 14-8 record over the 2008 and 2009 campaigns.

Under Damron’s direction, UVa-Wise saw improvement in numerous facets of the game. The Cavaliers rushed for 1,233 yards in 2016 before gaining 1,299 yards on the ground in 2017. This comes after the program posted just 767 yards on the ground in 2015. Through the air, UVa-Wise has passed for at least 2,500 yards in each of Damron’s first two seasons. In the two prior seasons, the team averaged 2,259 passing yards per game.

On defense, UVa-Wise has intercepted 15 passes in each of Damron’s first two seasons. The increased interception total has allowed the program to finish -2 and -6 in the turnover battle each season. Prior to Damron’s arrival, the Cavaliers were -23 in the turnover battle in 2015.

The turnaround has resulted in a plethora of awards for football student-athletes. Linebacker Zachary Blair earned Second-Team All-America acclaim, in addition to First-Team All-Region and First-Team All-MEC honors as a senior in 2016. Meanwhile, placekicker Trent Martin joined Blair as an all-region and all-conference pick while tailback Carlton Griffith and defensive back Ed Kargbo earned All-MEC Honorable Mention acclaim that same season.

Last fall, offensive lineman Will White, linebacker Donavan Montague, Kargbo, defensive back Andre Hamilton and kick returner Marquis Hamilton were named All-MEC Second-Team honorees.

Hamilton returned two kicks for a touchdown while averaging 37.1 yards per return, he finished one kick return shy of qualifying as the national leader in the category.

In the classroom, Montague was named CoSIDA Academic All-District. The linebacker posted a 3.57 grade point average as a biology major and was inducted into the school’s elite Darden Society.

Named the fourth head football coach in school history in December of 2015, Damron came to the College after a seven-year stint at Eastern Kentucky University.

With the Colonels, Damron spent five years as the team’s offensive coordinator. A 22-year coaching veteran, he has been known for his offensive prowess. In his final season at EKU, Damron’s offense set a NCAA FCS record for offensive snaps in a game with 123 against Murray State. In 2012, the Colonels averaged more than 200 rushing yards and 200 passing yards per game. The Colonels rushed for at least 1,700 yards in each of Damron’s five years directing the offense.

During Damron’s tenure as offensive coordinator, EKU posted at least six wins in all five seasons he oversaw the offense. The Colonels tallied eight wins in 2012 before posting nine victories in 2014. Overall, Damron’s teams recorded 69-47 wins and losses during his collegiate coaching career.

Damron began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at EKU in 1994. Following a stint at Morehead State, he became the offensive coordinator at George Jenkins High School in Lakeland, Florida. Later, he moved on to Lake Gibson High School in Lakeland where the school reached previously unchartered waters on the football field. The Braves won their first playoff game in school history and advanced to the regional finals in each of Damron’s last two seasons as head coach.

Following his time in Florida, the coach returned to his native state of Kentucky to become the head coach at Boyd County High School in Ashland, Kentucky. Damron’s track record of success continued with the Lions as they won a playoff game in three consecutive seasons. The coach returned to the collegiate ranks in 2007 when he accepted the head coaching position at Kentucky Christian University. The 2008 season marked the first-ever varsity football team in Kentucky Christian history.

Damron played collegiate football at Georgetown College (Ky.) where he aided the Tigers to the 1991 NAIA National Championship. A two-time All-American, the former quarterback is enshrined in Georgetown’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Damron obtained a bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from Georgetown College before later earning a master’s degree in sport administration from Eastern Kentucky. The coach and his wife Delisha have two children – Hanna and Derek.

Offensive Coordinator/QB's
Zach Lewis

Zach Lewis is in his first season as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at UVa-Wise. The Coach comes to the college after having the same position last season at Alderson Broaddus.

“I’m very excited to announce Zach Lewis as our offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach,” Damron remarked shortly after his hiring. “He is a high energy guy that will inject a new attitude and bring enthusiasm to our offense.”

At Alderson Broaddus, Lewis oversaw a Battlers’ offense that ranked 23rd nationally in scoring at 40.4 points per game. AB rushed for 189.4 yards per game while passing for 256 yards a contest last fall.

Under Lewis’ direction, student-athletes established five new school records at AB as the coach served as the school’s offensive play caller.

“I’m very excited to be part of the Cavalier family,” Lewis said shortly after his hiring. “Coach Damron and this staff has done a great job in building such a special atmosphere and I hope to aid continue that.”

A four-year starter at Moorehead State University, Lewis set school records for passing yards, completions and touchdowns during his collegiate career.

As a coach, the new offensive coordinator spent four years at his alma mater where he worked as the slot receivers coach and video coordinator in 2014 before overseeing recruiting and directing quarterbacks for three seasons.

While at Moorehead State, Lewis helped develop conference player of the year Austin Gahafer who passed for a league record 11,918 yards during his career. The Eagles led the Pioneer Football League in passing offense in 2015 and 2016 while also leading the conference in passing touchdowns in back-to-back seasons.

“After talking with Zach and talking with people about him, there was no doubt that he would be the perfect guy to take over our offense,” Damron stated. “We are on the same page with what we want our offense to be and he brings a great presence to the offensive staff room; I have been aware of Coach Lewis and what he has been doing for the last couple of seasons and I couldn’t be happier to have him join us in Wise.”

A 2014 graduate of Moorehead State, Lewis obtained a bachelor’s degree in health and physical education.

Defensive Coordinator/LB's
Chris Cunningham

Chris Cunningham is in his second season at UVa-Wise and his first as the program's defensive coordinator. A year ago, the coach served as the team's linebackers coach.

Under Cunningham's guidance, Donavan Montague earned All-MEC Second-Team acclaim as a linebacker in 2018. Combined, Cavalier linebackers tallied over 200 tackles, including more than 40 behind the line of scrimmage. As a defensive unit, UVa-Wise ranked top 30 nationally in seven different categories, including third in tackles for loss.

Cunningham came to UVa-Wise from Lawrence University where he was the Special Teams Coordinator and Defensive Line coach from 2015-2017. At Lawrence he mentored a pair of All-Conference Special Teams players in Alic Riedel and Jake Gostisha and a pair of defensive lineman in Jake Gostisha and John Koeneman.

Before Lawrence, Cunningham worked at the University of Pikeville for the 2014 season. At Pikeville, he served as the linebackers coach and assistant special teams coach while also serving as the academic coordinator. He mentored an all-conference selection in John-Dudley Hilton and defensive conference player of the week in Donald Styles.

Prior to Pikeville, he served two seasons as a defensive graduate assistant at Eastern Kentucky University and guided the defensive backs. Cunningham who earned his master’s degree in sports administration, coached a pair of all-conference safeties in Brooklyn Fox and Brandon Stanley. The season prior to his graduate assistant role he worked as a student assistant for the 2011 Ohio Valley Conference champions.

A native of Miami, Cunningham is a graduate of Dade Christian School where he was a two-time all-county and all-state football selection. He attended Eastern Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s degree in sport management. A football player at Eastern Kentucky, Cunningham played defensive end and linebacker for the Colonels and helped them win an Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2008. A 2012 graduate of Eastern Kentucky, Cunningham was named a Colonel Scholar-Athlete for three consecutive years and was selected multiple times for the Dean’s List.

Cunningham and his wife, Nicole, were married in 2016 and have a daughter, Larkyn.

Offensive Line Coach
Mike Compton

Mike Compton is in his third season as the offensive line coach at UVa-Wise. The coach has seen a pair of offensive lineman earn all-conference accoaldes during his tenure while the offense has averaged 115 rushing yards per game while scoring 28 touchdowns on the ground.

Last season, Will White earned All-MEC Honorable Mention on the offensive line as the Cavaliers rushed for 17 touchdowns, the team's highest total since becomming a NCAA Division II member.

In his first season, the offensive line was part of an offense that rushed for 1,233 yards and 11 touchdowns. The 1,233 yards marked a 466 yard improvement from 2015.

Compton came to the College after spending the 2015 season at fellow Mountain East Conference institution Concord.

Prior to working at Concord, Compton spent two seasons each at Fairmont State and Bluefield College directing the offensive line.

A Southwest Virginia native, he spent three seasons as the head coach at Patrick Henry High School in Glade Springs. He started his coaching career at Tazewell High School where he worked from 2006-08 as an assistant coach on the offensive and defensive lines.

Compton was a standout offensive lineman at West Virginia University from 1989-92. He was a three-year starter at center and was a consensus All-America selection (United Press International, Kodak, Walter Camp, Playboy, Football News) as a senior in 1992. Following his senior season he was selected to play in the Blue-Gray and Kodak Hula Bowl, and was given the NCAA's Top 6 Award. He was a two-time All-BIG EAST selection and was also recognized for his academic excellence as a two-time first team GTE/CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree. Compton was given the Ira E. Rogers Award in 1991 and 1992, and was named the "Red" Brown Cup Award as the top male athlete at WVU in 1992. He was inducted into the WVU Hall of Fame in 2005.

Compton was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the third round (68th overall pick) in 1993. He spent his first eight seasons with the Lions, which included blocking for Barry Sanders during his 2,053-yard rushing season in 1997. He then spent three seasons with the New England Patriots from 2001-04 and was a member of two Super Bowl winning teams in 2001 and 2003. He finished his 12-year NFL career with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005.

Compton is the father of three children, Jessica, Josh and Sarah, and is married to Letonya Compton.

Wide Receivers Coach
James Guest

James Guest is in his third season at UVa-Wise and his second as the program’s wide receivers and special teams coach. Guest’s schemes led to some big plays for the Cavaliers in the return game as the unit led the league and ranked 10th nationally in kickoff return average at 25.56 yards per return. Last fall, UVa-Wise returned three kicks for touchdowns to lead the league and rank second nationally.

Seventeen different receivers caught a pass in 2017, led by Kaian Duverger who earned All-MEC Honorable Mention honors working with Guest. In total, the unit hauled 18 touchdown catches as UVa-Wise passed for 227 yards per game.

In his first season, Guest served as running backs and tight ends coach and saw the Cavaliers improve their rushing yards by 42.4 yards per game. Tailback Carlton Griffith flourished under Guest’s coaching as he posted career highs in rushing yardage (714) and touchdowns (9) while earning All-MEC honors.

Guest came to the College after most recently serving on the University of Tennessee Martin staff.

While at UT-Martin, the coach spent time as the running backs and quarterbacks coach. While serving as running backs coach, Guest was integral in the development of Abou Toure. Toure received all-conference accolades before signing as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts.

In 2015, the Skyhawks finished second in the Ohio Valley Conference in scoring offense at 35.5 points per game while also ranking second in passing offense per game (293.5) and total offense at 466.1 yards per game.

In both capacities, the coach coordinated blitz pick-up and blocking protections while assisting in run and pass game installation. Guest also assisted in off-season strength and conditioning programs while coordinating opponent breakdowns.

Prior to his time at UT-Martin, Guest spent the previous six seasons coaching high school football in the state of Florida. His final stop was at Oviedo High School where he was the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Guest also served as an offensive assistant at Oviedo from 2009-11.

Guest also spent two seasons (2012-13) at his alma mater Cocoa Beach Senior High School in Cocoa Beach, Fla. The coach served as the team’s offensive coordinator and aided the 2012 squad to the best record in school history (9-2). His offense set school records in total yards, passing touchdowns and scoring that season while the coach helped develop an all-state player at quarterback and wide receiver.

As a player, Guest was a three-year letterman for Cocoa Beach High School. The quarterback led the school to its first postseason victory with a win in the 2005 Scholarship Bowl.

Born in Houston, Texas, Guest graduated from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in science kinesiology and exercise science in 2012.

Safeties Coach
Nick Rosser

In his third season coaching cornerbacks at UVa-Wise, Nick Rosser’s unit has developed into one of the best in the conference. In the first two seasons, the Cavaliers have intercepted 30 passes. The tally is a 12 interception improvement over the two seasons prior to his arrival.

Defensive back Ed Kargbo earned All-MEC accolades in Rosser’s first season as UVa-Wise defensive backs tallied 41 pass break ups while forcing two fumbles and recovering three. Last fall, Kargbo was joined on the All-MEC team by fellow defensive back Andre Hamilton. The duo combined for 86 tackles, 16 pass break ups and two interceptions.

A Stafford native, Rosser previously spent a year at James Madison University where he served as quality control coach for the defense while also coaching cornerbacks.

In his one season with the Dukes, James Madison posted a 9-3 record and tied for the Colonial Athletic Association title while advancing to the FCS playoffs.

The coach was responsible for film breakdown and produced weekly scouting reports for the team. Additionally, Rosser created cut-ups for daily defensive back meetings and prepared scout team cards for practices.

Working directly with the Dukes’ defensive backs the team produced 41 pass break ups, 11 interceptions, five forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries while two players earned all-conference accolades.

Previously, Rosser worked at King George High School in King George where he spent time as the strength and conditioning coach, special teams coordinator, running backs coach, wide receivers coach and defensive backs coach.

Rosser played collegiately at James Madison and lettered for the Dukes in 2000.

Rosser graduated from James Madison with a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology in 2003.

Strength/Conditioning Coordinator/DL Coach
Demetruis Coley

Demetrius Coley is in his third season as the defensive line coach and his second as the football program’s strength and conditioning coordinator at UVa-Wise.

Coley’s defensive front has ranked among the best in the league since his arrival. Last fall, the Cavs led the conference and ranked 11th nationally in sacks with 36. Defensive lineman Ben Funny collected seven of the sacks en route to All-MEC accolades. Two years ago, Coley was part of a defensive coaching staff that ranked second in the MEC and set a program record for fewest rushing yards allowed per game at 100.1.

Coley came to UVa-Wise after spending the 2015 season as the running backs coach at Warren Central High School in Bowling Green, Ky.

A Bay Minette, Ala. native, Coley was a three-year starter at Western Kentucky University where he aided the team to its first bowl win in program history. The Big Red was bowl eligible for all four seasons during his career. Coley sepnt time at running back, fullback and tight end during his collegiate career.

Coley obtained a bachelor's degree in criminology from Western Kentucky in 2014.

Recruiting Coordinator / CB's Coach
Brandon Merchant
Runningback's Coach
Justin Snyder

Justin Snyder is in his first season coaching running backs at UVa-Wise. The Jonesborough, Tenn. native comes to the College after a four-year career at Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tenn. where he started 16 games behind center for the Phoenix.

At Cumberland, Snyder passed for nearly 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns while adding 13 rushing touchdowns during his collegiate career. As a junior, Snyder was coached by current UVa-Wise offensive coordinator Klay Koester before being named team captain as a senior.

A three-sport athlete at Science Hill High School in Johnson City, Tenn., Snyder helped the Hilltoppers to their first playoff win in football in a decade during his prep career. As a wrestler, he was a three-time region champion and qualified for the state tournament all four years.

He obtained a bachelor’s degree in health and human performance from Cumberland in 2017.

Tight Ends
Killian Markworth
Defensive Ends
Josh Compton
Chief of Staff
Phil Robbins

Phil Robbins is in his second year serving as Chief of Staff for the football program.

Previously, Robbins spent five years as the program’s equipment manager. In his current capacity, he will oversee day-to-day operations of the football program while assisting with travel, budget and high school relations.

He spent 45 years coaching football in Virginia serving as the head football and track and field coach at John Battle, Christiansburg and Powell Valley High Schools.

The longest tenure was at Powell Valley where in 28 years he won 15 district, 15 regional and seven state titles while finishing state runner up in 2004 as the football coach. Robbins also won a pair of state track crowns in 1994 and 2002.

Robbins retired in 2010 with 307 victories ranking top five in Virginia High School League history.

He and his wife Patty have three children Andy, Wes and Brad. The couple is blessed with five grandchildren, Cassie, Kelsey, Kendall, Ashlyn and Hudson along with one great grandchild Brayleigh and another on the way.