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Matt Kitchie is getting a chance to resurrect his coaching career -- at a place in dire need of some resuscitation itself.
Kitchie, who coached at Land O'Lakes the previous two seasons before being forced out over an off-field incident, confirmed Thursday evening he has been hired as coach at Leto.
"This is a great opportunity to go to a program where the kids are hungry," said Kitchie, 17-3 during his abbreviated tenure with the Gators. "I'm very excited."
Kitchie, who interviewed with Leto's administration a couple of days ago and was offered the job Thursday, assumes arguably the toughest coaching job in Hillsborough County.
Leto hasn't had a winning season this millennium. Under first-year coach Mike Jalazo, the 2010 Falcons finished 1-9 -- their lone win coming via forfeit -- and scored only two touchdowns. Jalazo resigned last week and accepted the job at Northeast shortly thereafter.
"Well, there's other programs that have won state championships in the area that, before their coach got there, were 1-9," said Kitchie, a 33-year-old Bradenton Southeast graduate who is engaged to be married.
"I don't know that I'm able to do that, but I'm going to give it a try. The thing for me is, I think if I believe in the kids and they believe in me and we work as hard as we can, great things can happen both on the field and off the field."
Leto athletic director Lauren Otero couldn't immediately be reached. Unlike Jalazo, who worked off-campus, Kitchie said he'll teach health and physical education at the school.
"I go into this with my eyes wide open about the obstacles, but I also go in with a great optimism," Kitchie said. "A five-year plan is what I'm looking at for what I want to do."