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His predecessors include a Northwestern graduate, an NFL linebacker and one of the most well-known alumni in USF football lore. But none could or would give Freedom football the attribute Tchecoy Blount intends to provide.
A former USF defensive end, Blount, a 31-year-old ESE teacher at Freedom, has been hired to replace James Harrell as Patriots coach. He'll become the fifth person to hold that job since the start of the 2006 season; Harrell resigned last month to take the same job at Jesuit.
"My goal is to be here at Freedom High School," Blount said. "My goal is to bring Freedom High School its first district championship, my goal is to bring Freedom High School its first state title."
Count Freedom principal Chris Farkas among those who expect Blount's tenure to be much longer than those of Harrell, Marquel Blackwell (2007-08) and Leon Brockmeier (interim 2006, not hired for permanent job).
Farkas narrowed his list of 22 applicants to five finalists, whom he interviewed Monday. He said he and athletic director Elijah Thomas arrived at their decision later that night.
"He wants to be a high school football coach," Farkas said. "He's already put in his time here at Freedom. His goal is the student-athlete at Freedom, not his own personal gain. He sees the head coaching position as something he wants to be in for an extended period of time."
A member of Freedom's faculty the last four years, Blount is a former high school and college teammate of Blackwell, the ex-USF quarterback. The pair helped guide Dixie Hollins to the playoffs in each of their four varsity seasons, highlighted by a trip to the Class 5A state title game in 1995.
Blount joined Freedom's coaching staff during Blackwell's brief, turbulent tenure and remained aboard when Blackwell resigned and was replaced by Harrell. He said the head coaching job fulfills a career goal he mapped out with his wife, Cindy, after his college graduation in 2002.
"When I first started coaching at Freedom High School my goal was to be an assistant for two years and then venture out and try to become a head coach," said Blount, a father of two. "Everything is going according to my goal."
Blount (whose first name is pronounced SHA-koy) said the Patriots will stick with the 3-4 base defense they have used in recent seasons, and employ a pro-style, I-formation offense with some spread looks implemented as well. He inherits a 7-3 team that reached the Class 5A playoffs in 2009.
"I look at other coaches around Hillsborough County, Coach (Billy) Turner who recently retired at Chamberlain, Coach (Earl) Garcia at Hillsborough, Coach (Sean) Callahan at Armwood, and they have been at their respective school for decades," Blount said.
"That's why those programs were and are good programs, because of the stability of the head coach."