John Davis was hired for his second stint as Clearwater Central Catholic's football coach Friday, ending the school's 10-week search to replace Mike Jalazo.
Davis, who coached Countryside the past eight seasons, was coaxed into returning by CCC's administration and emerged as the leading candidate within the past two weeks.
"I called the school to recommend one of my coaches for the job," Davis said. "Then the school wanted to sit down and talk with me."
Besides coaching, Davis also will serve as an assistant to Clearwater Central Catholic's advancement director, Dick Falls.
"There always has been a soft part in my heart for CCC," Davis said. "Those were probably the best years of coaching."
Davis did not get into specifics on how much he will earn in his new job.
"I can say Nick Saban and Urban Meyer are not going to be jealous with how much I'm making," Davis said.
Countryside booster club president John Schroeder said the booster club tried everything to keep Davis from leaving.
"Whatever CCC offered for John to come over, Countryside had a better package," Shroeder said. "But we'll still be okay. We'll find a great coach."
Davis addressed the Countryside players early Friday afternoon, but by then word of his departure already had reached most of them.
“Everyone pretty much knew,” said heralded offensive tackle Tyler Moore, a rising senior and arguably the Cougars’ best player. “A lot of people were upset that he was leaving us after we had a meeting two or three weeks ago when he told us he wasn’t going anywhere, and that he was ready to get going.”
That said, Moore said most are sorry to see Davis go.
“We all loved him, even though he could be hard on us, “ Moore said. “He was a great coach.”
Davis took over the Marauders in 1994 and went 52-36 in eight seasons and guided the program to playoff appearances in his last six seasons, including four district titles. He left in 2002 to go to Countryside, where he went 66-24 and made the playoffs in seven of eight seasons.
Last year, the Cougars were 11-2 and reached the Class 5A region finals, where they lost to eventual state champion Plant. Many top recruits from that team were returning, including Moore and defensive back Alex Dixon.
"I'm leaving a much better program to come here," Davis said of going back to CCC. "That was the hard part. But you have to do what is best for yourself."
The Marauders have been without a coach since Dec. 11, when they dismissed Jalazo, who coached the team for eight seasons and went to the playoffs six times. CCC returns a solid core of players, including quarterback Nick Newton, who was named second-team all-state.
"John has enjoyed great success throughout his career and we believe he is the coach who can take our program to the next level," CCC principal James Deputy said. "His teams at CCC and Countryside continually challenged for championships and earned state recognition and that is what we are looking to continue to do at CCC."