While we released our Top Five (or six) coaching changes of the 2015 off-season, there were other significant changes made at programs around the state that are worth their time in the spotlight. Here are some of the big ones that caught out eye as the offseason progressed.
Plantation American Heritage – This change was so close to making the cut on changes, but given the nature of things it was hard to leave someone out. However, we can’t take a way the significance of what Mike Rumph did in the few years with the Patriots, helping them win the 2013 and 2014 Class 5A state championships. With the promotion of Pat Surtain, the Patriots should be able to keep things rolling for the foreseeable future.
Bishop Kenny – Mark Thorson steps down after guiding the Crusaders through some of its best seasons in school history with former Providence head coach Bobby Raulerson set to take over. Crusaders should be able to keep the success rolling under Raulerson’s watch.
Boyd Anderson – This would have been a possible top five change hadn’t been for the changes at Chaminade-Madonna. With Eddie Brown stepping away after turning around the Cobras to a 9-2 record, Quincy Woods will get the chance to lead things for 2016.
Clearwater Central Catholic – Another coaching change just right on the bubble here as John Davis finally hung up the whistle after his second stint with the Marauders, where he led them to the 2013 Class 3A state championship game before falling to Jacksonville Trinity Christian. Chris Harvey was promoted after serving as an assistant this past season.
Coral Springs Charter – After leading the team to its most successful season last year, Adam Miller was afford the chance to take a graduate assistant’s job at Florida International. Matt Garris, defensive coordinator last season was promoted to take over as head coach.
Ed White – The school is on its third head coach in as many seasons, but they couldn’t have found a bigger home run hire than FACA Hall of Fame head coach Kevin Sullivan to take over the reigns of the Commanders program after a failed second stint of former head coach Terry Gilliam. Sullivan’s hire could put the Commanders right back in the playoff hunt this season.
Edgewater – After getting the Eagles righted back to their winning ways under Rich Bedesem, the Orlando-area school hired former Florida Gator quarterback Chris Leak to take over, marking his first stint as a high school head football coach. After losing big time to a Mount Dora in the spring that is now on their fourth head coach in as many seasons, it remains to be seen how Leak will do with Edgewater.
Fleming Island – The Golden Eagles became noted for their success under Jeff Webb in the late 2000’s, while Frank Hall did a good job keeping the consistency together when he took over in 2012. However investigation involving the use of booster club money eventually forced Hall to step down for good with Damenyum Springs taking over as the interim head coach before finally being named the permanent head coach during the offseason.
Fletcher – After just one year under Ricky Medlock and seeing a one-point game be the difference between reaching the playoffs or not, Fletcher parted ways with Medlock and in turn promoted long-time assistant coach Kevin Brown who has spent all his coaching career at Fletcher, who also happens to be an alumnus of the Senators. In the end Brown, told us at the Jacksonville Media Day, that was unacceptable to Fletcher standards to miss the playoffs last season, thus resulting the change.
Fort Pierce Central – After guiding the Cobras through some of their best seasons in recent years, Josh Shaffer stepped down and to replace him was St. Thomas Aquinas defensive coordinator Matt Helmerich, who is bringing in some of the winning culture he inherited during his time with the Raiders.
Hallandale – After leading the team to its best season in school history with a regional final appearance in the playoffs, Dameon Jones stepped away from the coaching scene before recently taking the job at Chaminade-Madonna. Benedict Hyppolite was tapped to take over the program that is now considered one of Broward County’s most competitive teams now.
Jefferson County – After leading the Tigers through a turnaround that got them back to the playoffs Aaron Sheppard left to take the job down at Fort Pierce Westwood. The Tigers then turned to a familiar face in Jefferson County and former head coach Blair Armstrong for his second stint with the program. Armstrong who was previously at Hamilton County in 2013 and 2014 already as an impressive resume that includes a state championship from 1982 during his first stint with the Tigers. Armstron also lead Hamilton County to the 2014 Class 1A state championship game, which marked the first time in 40-years that program had reached a state championship game.
John Carroll – Mike Watkins put the Golden Rams back on the map through their winning ways which built up from being an independent power to being a district champion in District 3A-6 this past season. However a lateral move to Bay High School in Panama City was one of the biggest reasons in Watkins’ departure from the Fort Pierce school. In turn John Carroll hired former Fort Pierce Central head coach Chris Hutchings to continue what Watkins built up.
Lake Brantley – Longtime coach George Clayton hung up the whistle for good after taking over the program in the late 1990’s. Clayton, who lead the Patriots the 2006 Class 6A state championship game before falling to Miami Northwestern, leave the program in the hands of longtime assistant coach David Delfiacoo, who is also a Lake Brantley alum.
Lake Gibson – This was another big change that made the round the state when longtime Braves coach Keith DeMyer retired after 40-years of coaching in various capacities at schools around Polk County. DeMyer’s son Doug DeMyer, was promoted from assistant coach to keep the continuity intact at the Lakeland school that reach the state championship game twicee (2003 and 2004) under the elder DeMyer.
Mandarin – With Brian Braddock leaving for St. Augustine after leading Mandarin to its best finish in school history with a 12-1 record, the school quickly found their man in former Jacksonville Jaguars and former Andrew Jackson head coach Quinn Gray. With the bar set high, the challenge will be for Gray to lead the team to keep that bar right where it is now.
North Florida Christian – After six seasons that included winning the Class 2A state championship in 2011, Robert Craft left his alma mater for the same position at North Forsyth High School near Atlanta. The school quickly promoted assistant coach Steve Price to take over. Price might be remembered for spending three years as the head coach at Taylor County from 2009 until 2011.
North Marion – Just after two years after taking over the North Marion program, Stephen Field landed a college coaching job that was too good for him to pass up. With Field continuing North Marion’s success of reaching the playoffs that started under former head coach Craig Damon, it is now former Palatka and Interlachen head coach Willie Offord’s turn to keep the success going this year.
Oak Ridge – The school is going on their third head coach as in many seasons after Tyrone Sapp left the program after one season. In turn, the school hired Wekiva head coach Kenard Lang who led Wekiva to their first playoff berth in school history in the 2014 season. Lang is also noted for the success he had at nearby Jones in the late-2000’s.
Oakleaf – This was a big move that caught a lot of people around the state off guard as Derek Chipoletti stepped down to take a job in the private sector after leading Oakleaf to its best stretch of football in school history. That stretch include a 12-1 record in 2014 with the school’s first-ever regional finals appearance in Class 7A. Assistant head coach Steve Reynolds who served as head coach at Bradford in 2013 and 2014 was promoted to lead the Knights this season.
Pace – Replacing a legend is hard and this is certainly the case as Mickey Lindsey stepped down after 39-years of coaching, including 25 years as the head coach for the Patriots. However, Lindsey’s replacement was not far away as former assistant and Jay head coach, Kent Smith, was tapped to take the reigns of the program which has had much success over the years under Lindsey.
Pahokee – The Blue Devils were dealt a blow right before the playoffs last season when former head coach Alphonso Smith was removed from the sideline for improper conduct that eventually cost them game in the regional semifinals against Dixie County. However, Pahokee hopes they have found someone to stabilize things with Orson Walkes, a Pahokee alum, taking over the program to continue the tradition that the Blue Devils are known for.
Plant City – After leading the Raiders to their best finish in school history with a 12-1 record and an appearance in the regional finals, Greg Meyer stepped way early in the summer due to health issues. The school quickly appointed assistant head coach Robert Paxia as the new head coach to keep things going for a team that is expected once again to compete for a district championship this season.
Plantation – For 11 seasons, Steve Davis lead the Plantation Colonels through one of their best stretches of football in a while. However, he felt it was time to hang it up and let someone new take over the program that has been highly competitive in Broward County. With that comes Jesse Norris who comes to Plantation from Culver-Stockton College in Missouri to continue the success of the Colonels program.
Ribault – The Trojans which have risen up as a program over the last few years will have a new man in charge to lead things as long time coach Anthony Flynn hung up the whistle. Flynn, who’s Trojans were just points away from the regional finals last season, will see longtime assistant coach and Ribault alum Kelvin Smith take over to build off that success.
Santa Fe Catholic – Just shortly removed off winning the Sunshine State Athletic Conference championship and undefeated season, Billy Dickerson announced his resignation as head coach. In turn the school quickly promoted assistant coach Zach Shelby to the lead the program to defend its conference title this season.
Sickles – After leading Sickles through its most successful stretch of football, Brian Turner stepped away from the game the school hired former Jesuit assistant Patrick Murphy, who recently was an assistant coach for a high school up in Tennessee. Murphy will be tasked with keep the winning culture that has become a staple for the Gryphons program.
South Sumter – The Sumter county school has not had to hire a new head coach since 1984 – that is 32 years for those keeping count. However, that changed this offseason when longtime head coach Inman Sherman finally hung up the whistle for good. Very quickly the school promoted longtime assistant coach Ty Lawrence to fill the shoes Sherman leaves behind. However, by promoting Lawerence will keep things intact for the program that has build a tradition around winning games and reaching the playoffs each season.
Suwannee – Jamie Rodgers quickly came in several years ago and got things kicking again for a Suwannee program that is home to four consecutive state championship that were won between 1987 and 1990. In 2014 the Bulldogs went the furthest in the playoffs, with a trip to the state semfianls, since the 1999 season when they finished as the Class 3A state runner-up to Glades Central under now current Navarre head coach Jay Walls. However, Rodgers leaped at the opportunity to return home to Baker County and the Bulldogs quickly hired alum and Maclay head coach Kyler Hall to lead the program for the foreseeable future.
Westmisnter Christian – Westminster was certainly not in a hurt when Sederick Irvin decided to step down after leading the team to three consecutive district championships. Quickly though, they found his replacement in former Miami Jackson head coach Earl Little to lead the team that will be in the hunt for their fourth consecutive District 3A-8 championship this season.
Zephyrhills – The Bulldogs had a lot of success under former head coach and alum Reggie Roberts who was dismissed after the season as the school wanted to have a full-time on campus head coach. However, the move wasn’t totally popular with the community given the success Roberts brought with two straight playoff apperances. However, things settled down when the school hired alum Nick Carroll who has been a long time assistant at nearby Sunlake in Land O’ Lakes to lead the next phase of football for the Bulldogs.