Dunedin moved quickly to find a new football coach, hiring Palm Harbor University’s Matt LePain on Monday.
The decision was made less than three weeks after Dunedin fired Denis Gillen, who went 1-9 in his only season.
“When the position came open we reached out to Matt,” Dunedin principal Reuben Hepburn said. “He’s a great coach with great credentials, and we knew we were not going to find anyone that would come close to what he could bring.”
LePain, who coached the Hurricanes three seasons, said he was not looking to change jobs. But the opportunity to coach at a school he remembers fondly from its glory days was too good to pass up.
“There are only two jobs I’ve really wanted in this county, Countryside or Dunedin,” LePain said. “I went to Countryside, but I remember going to Dunedin games when they were going to the state finals. I live in the same house I grew up in which is 1.5 miles away from Dunedin High.
“It’s a school that just brings back very good memories for me. I’m moving because Dunedin made the call and reached out to me. I always thought once I was at Palm Harbor, that was it. I’d never thought I’d get an opportunity like this to coach at Dunedin.”
A longtime defensive coordinator at Largo, LePain was regarded as one of the top assistants in the county and helped the Packers reach the state semifinals in 2007 and ’08. He was passed over for several head coaching jobs in the county before he was hired at PHU in December 2010.
He took over a Hurricanes program that had just one winning season and was the only public school to never make the playoffs.
LePain quickly changed that, guiding PHU to district runnerup finishes and reaching the region semifinals in 2011 and ’12. Last season, the Hurricanes finished 5-5 despite losing several skill players who transferred to other schools.
LePain met with PHU players to tell them the news and said he will meet with the Falcons on Wednesday. LePain will remain a teacher at Palm Harbor University through the end of this school year.