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Rick Darlington is BACK........


Dan in Daytona
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Three time Florida state champion, and Hall of Fame coach Rick Darlington is coming back to the central Florida area. Deland High hit a grand slam with this legendary hire. (Thanks for the heads up DarterBlue). Word on the street, Big Mainland Buccaneer boss Travis Roland has the football trainers already tightening up the helmet straps in anticipation of the Bucs annual cross county showdown with the Deland Bulldogs.  Welcome back Coach Darlington...we've missed you. 

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Can someone remind me why Darlington stopped coaching at Apopka?   Did he do the "I want to spend more time with my family" thing?  Or was he fired/not rehired?   Did something unseemly happen at Apopka?  If so, I've already forgotten it.  Did he just get the itch again?   In short, why is he no longer coaching Apopka and why is he going to be coaching someplace else?   Inquiring minds want to know. 

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29 minutes ago, Perspective said:

Can someone remind me why Darlington stopped coaching at Apopka?   Did he do the "I want to spend more time with my family" thing?  Or was he fired/not rehired?   Did something unseemly happen at Apopka?  If so, I've already forgotten it.  Did he just get the itch again?   In short, why is he no longer coaching Apopka and why is he going to be coaching someplace else?   Inquiring minds want to know. 

The first departure was an opportunity to coach at a big name program, Valdosta. He left in good standing which is why he was immediately rehired after he and the Wildcats parted ways.

I think that his second departure was a combination of getting that itch, and the fact that Apopka had not made a deep run in the recent past leading up to his departure. It did not hurt that the Enterprise job paid a lot more than any Florida public school did.

As I understand it, the Apopka coaching job is not currently open, so coming back to the Darters was not a current option. Also, perhaps, he just wants to see what he could do with a program like Deland. There is decent talent in the zone, but their coaching situation has been relatively unstable over the last 20 years. If he can keep the talent home, they could make the playoffs with some frequency. 

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As usual, good call Darter, 100%

Some may disagree, but Apopka, Daytona Mainland, Cocoa, and Deland all have similar type athletes from similar backgrounds and life experiences. All have superb aggressive High School ball players with a chip on their shoulder. Only when the coaching staffs are up to the talent level of their home grown athletes do they win consistently. Coach Darlington's pool of players at sleepy Deland High might be smaller then what he had at Apopka. But that won't matter. When he keeps his young men home, he'll win. Take that to the bank. 

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6 hours ago, Dan in Daytona said:

As usual, good call Darter, 100%

Some may disagree, but Apopka, Daytona Mainland, Cocoa, and Deland all have similar type athletes from similar backgrounds and life experiences. All have superb aggressive High School ball players with a chip on their shoulder. Only when the coaching staffs are up to the talent level of their home grown athletes do they win consistently. Coach Darlington's pool of players at sleepy Deland High might be smaller then what he had at Apopka. But that won't matter. When he keeps his young men home, he'll win. Take that to the bank. 

Especially if he can start getting some players from nearby schools, he will be able to compete at a high level almost immediately. The struggle will be getting the offense down but after year 1? I expect them to be dangerous

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8 hours ago, Dan in Daytona said:

As usual, good call Darter, 100%

Some may disagree, but Apopka, Daytona Mainland, Cocoa, and Deland all have similar type athletes from similar backgrounds and life experiences. All have superb aggressive High School ball players with a chip on their shoulder. Only when the coaching staffs are up to the talent level of their home grown athletes do they win consistently. Coach Darlington's pool of players at sleepy Deland High might be smaller then what he had at Apopka. But that won't matter. When he keeps his young men home, he'll win. Take that to the bank. 

I would add Osceola to your list, Dan.

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13 hours ago, DarterBlue2 said:

The first departure was an opportunity to coach at a big name program, Valdosta. He left in good standing which is why he was immediately rehired after he and the Wildcats parted ways.

I think that his second departure was a combination of getting that itch, and the fact that Apopka had not made a deep run in the recent past leading up to his departure. It did not hurt that the Enterprise job paid a lot more than any Florida public school did.

As I understand it, the Apopka coaching job is not currently open, so coming back to the Darters was not a current option. Also, perhaps, he just wants to see what he could do with a program like Deland. There is decent talent in the zone, but their coaching situation has been relatively unstable over the last 20 years. If he can keep the talent home, they could make the playoffs with some frequency. 

Thanks, Darter.   It'll be interesting to see what offense Darlington installs at Deland . . . and whether all the youth teams in the area start running the same offense to prepare them for their high school days. 

It's one thing to get a bunch of 9th and 10th graders to buy into the program when it has been producing championships.  Darlington certainly has the credentials, but it'll be interesting to see what offense he runs and if the really fast kids who like to catch footballs are willing to learn how to block more than 80% of the time. 

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3 minutes ago, Perspective said:

Thanks, Darter.   It'll be interesting to see what offense Darlington installs at Deland . . . and whether all the youth teams in the area start running the same offense to prepare them for their high school days. 

It's one thing to get a bunch of 9th and 10th graders to buy into the program when it has been producing championships.  Darlington certainly has the credentials, but it'll be interesting to see what offense he runs and if the really fast kids who like to catch footballs are willing to learn how to block more than 80% of the time. 

You are welcome.

It should be interesting. If he can keep all Deland's talent home, they should make the playoffs consistently. 

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Darlington set to coach DeLand football

Chris Boyle

Daytona Beach News-Journal USA TODAY NETWORK

Since the late 1980s, when he graduated from Stetson University with a degree in business management, Rick Darlington always had fond memories of — and an eye on — DeLand.

When he fielded a phone call from longtime friend Lance Jenkins, DeLand High's athletic director, a couple weeks ago and learned of its impending football coaching vacancy, Darlington decided the time was right for a return.

Darlington was named the Bulldogs' head coach Monday afternoon. The 56year-old built Apopka into one of Florida's perennial powerhouses, winning 30 playoff games, seven regional titles and three state championships over 17 years.

The last three years, Darlington has coached Enterprise High in Alabama, guiding the program to three consecutive playoff appearances. This fall, Enterprise reached the Class 7A Elite Eight, leading the state in rushing and averaging 41 points per game.

“When the DeLand thing came open, and Lance called me, I couldn't help but consider it. It's something I have been intrigued by for a long time,” Darlington said in a phone interview. “I've got two grown children who live in Lake County and a grandson who is six months old.

“It seemed to be a great challenge.

See DELAND, Page 4B

ajax-request.php?val=Image_9.jpg&action=loadImage&type=Image&pSetup=daytonanewsjournal_live20160717&issue=20211208&crc=dtbbrd_newsjournal_12-08-2021_b_b_001_w-or9.pdf.0&edition=News%20Journal&paperImage=daytonanewsjournal&mtime=53882494zoom_in.png

Rick Darlington is back in DeLand and ready to take over the Bulldogs' football program.

JAKE CRANDALL/ADVERTISER

 


DeLand

Continued from Page 1B

You only get one life. Let's go.”

Darlington was set to arrive in De-Land and meet the staff and players on Tuesday, and complete a full-time relocation later in the winter. The Bulldogs went 4-4 in 2021 under Steve Allen, who steered the team into the playoffs three times in five years.

Jenkins said he would “be remiss” in not reaching out to Darlington after the job came open.

“He's a friend, a Stetson grad,” Jenkins added. “I told him, 'We're open. What do you think about coming back to Florida?' “I don't know what he is going to bring differently, but I know Rick is going to bring his style with him. He does some wizardry offensively.”

Apopka's identity under Darlington was a ruthless, run-heavy team operating out of the single-wing formation. In 2013, his Blue Darters broke the state's scoring record by averaging 50.1 points per game, producing a 1,000-yard passer and three separate 1,000-yard rushers.

Darlington said he wants DeLand to play with physicality and discipline while putting players in the best position to win, by any means necessary.

“People will say, 'Oh they never throw the ball, they always run the ball.' Our QB last year threw a school-record 20 TD passes in his first year as a starter,” Darlington said. “This year, we had two 1,000-yard rushers. We're going to do whatever we have to do.”

Many of DeLand's key contributors are underclassmen, including sophomores TJ Moore (897 passing yards, 294 rushing yards, 12 total TDs), Javon Ross (37 receptions, 465 yards, six TDs) and Marion Smokes (52 total tackles, 16 TFLs, four sacks).

“I know DeLand's always had talent. Coaches I talked to in the area confirmed that,” Darlington said. “They've got a good young class, and that's what you want. There is going to be growing pains to start with, on and off the field. I don't want to use the cliché of it being a process, but it takes time. I don't know how it is going to go in Year 1, but I know what I want it to look like in Year 3.”

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On 12/7/2021 at 1:05 AM, Dan in Daytona said:

I knew it wouldn't be long, before a "BULLDOG1987" sighting. Word is someone caught a whiff of him on the old Rivals message board. Carefull 'Dog our shenanigans won't fly over here at Josh's place. It's practically a Sunday school class. Please refresh my memory why we didn't get along...... :) 

I didn’t not get along with you. I just have a bad taste for Mainland. Heck they are trying to get our QB now. But the Beast has emerged from the ashes and is in full effect. The transfer portal is closed as of now 

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