After going through two football coaches in the past four years, Gibbs decided to stay close to home by naming Antonio Knox its coach Wednesday during an assembly in the school's auditorium.
Knox was the Gladiators' defensive coordinator last year and was a finalist for the Dunedin job this spring. He replaces Donnie Abraham, who resigned on Feb. 21 after two seasons to become an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Storm.
"This was a long time coming," Knox said. "I want to be here for the long haul. I want to retire here."
Knox, 29, played at Tuskegee University from 2002-05 and was an assistant coach there from 2006-08. In 2009, he was the defensive line coach at Gulfport High in Mississippi. Last season was his first with the Gladiators.
"This is a great school with great kids and I want to help push them in the right direction," Knox said. "This is where I want to be."
Gibbs was looking for continuity among its coaching staff. Since Al Davis stepped down in 2006 after 16 seasons, the Gladiators have had two coaches, Yusuf Shakir (2007-08) and Abraham (2009-10), both of whom were outside hires.
"I don't want to have to go and pick another coach in two or three years," Gibbs principal Kevin Gordon said. "We're looking to build a quality program with quality students and athletes."
Knox beat out four other finalists, Gibbs assistant coaches James Barbaree and Anthony Givins, Northeast defensive coordinator Kent Nash and Lakeland Victory Christian coach Jeff Schaum. All of the finalists went through two rounds of interviews the past three weeks.
"The administration talked about what my commitment would be to the school during the second interview," Knox said. "I've actually been trying to get to Gibbs since Yusuf was coach here."
Knox said Givins would still work on his coaching staff. Givins has been a longtime assistant at the school and was the offensive coordinator last season.
The Gladiators have a lot of talent coming back from last year's team that finished 3-7. But the team will be without quarterback Devontae White this spring. White is ineligible after transferring to Boca Ciega before coming back to Gibbs this semester.