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Gibbs has 65 applicants for football position

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Mon. March 14, 2011 | Bob Putnam | Email

Former Plantation American Heritage coach Byron Walker, former Boca Ciega coach Stevie Thomas and former Oakland Raiders receivers coach Charles Coe are among 65 applicants for the Gibbs football job.

The Gladiators have been without a coach since Feb. 21, when Donnie Abraham resigned to take an assistant coaching job with the Tampa Bay Storm.

The application deadline passed March 11. Athletic director Mark Robertson said the school will now start to narrow the pool of candidates to be interviewed in two weeks. Robertson said a coach should be named by the end of spring break, which starts March 28.

"We want to make sure we have someone in place in enough time before the start of spring practice," Roberston said.

Walker, who resigned as coach and athletic director of American Heritage in January after 19 seasons, has the most success at the high school level among the candidates. He led American Heritage to the playoffs 14 of his last 16 seasons, including a state final appearance in 1998. He compiled a 261-124 record at the school. Before taking over at American Heritage, Walker coached Belle Glade Glades Day from 1976-92, leading the program to the state final eight times and winning three titles. He also is a finalist for the head coaching job at Dunedin.

Thomas resigned from Boca Ciega in December because he said the school was looking for an on-campus coach. Thomas is a former standout with the Pirates and the Tampa Bay Storm.

Coe has been an assistant at several major colleges, including Pittsburgh and Tennessee. He also was the head coach at Alabama State from 2003-06 and the Oakland Raiders receivers coach in 2007.

There were several other former high school coaches in the state who applied, including former St. Cloud coach Bill Buldini, former Sanford Seminole coach Mike Cullison and former Land O'Lakes coach Matt Kitchie, that have been involved in some controversy the past few months.

In January, Buldini resigned as coach at St. Cloud after one season. He was suspended for one game by the Florida High School Athletic Association and the school had two to forfeit two games and pay a $200 fine after he allowed a homeless player to move in with him prior to the season. The player was ruled ineligible and no longer lives with Buldini.

Cullison, who led Sanford Seminole to the 2008 Class 6A state title, retired in February. He had been suspended with pay since November after saying a racial slur to an assistant coach regarding African American students attending a pep rally.

Kitchie was dismissed as Land O'Lakes coach after his handling of an off-field incident involving a player.

There also were in-house candidates, including Gibbs offensive coordinator Anthony Givins and defensive coordinator Antonio Knox. Knox also is a finalist for the Dunedin position.

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