Northside Christian, hoping to generate interest in a football program that has struggled to field enough players, has hired one of the bay area’s most popular players.
Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Mike Alstott will be officially introduced as Mustangs coach Wednesday morning. In becoming Northside Christian’s 10th head coach, Alstott succeeds Andre Dobson, who resigned in March after going 14-27 in four seasons.
“We talked to (Alstott) early in the process, and he was the first candidate we met,” Northside Christian athletic director Raul Hernandez said. “The goal all along was to get Mike here. People obviously know him and like him. But once I got to meet him I could see his humility and that his values as far as family matter deeply. He is a man of godly character and that attracted me more to him.”
In February, Shorecrest hired former Tampa Bay tight end Dave Moore, currently a color analyst on the Buccaneer Radio Network.
Coincidentally, Northside and Shorecrest face each other in the opening week of the season, marking the first time two former Bucs have squared off against each other as high school head coaches.
Alstott, a six-time Pro Bowl selection during his 12-year career with the Bucs, was known for plowing through defenders on knock-down, drag-out runs.
In 2010, Alstott started coaching in the youth league at Seminole. Last year was Alstott’s first in the high school ranks as a volunteer assistant at St. Petersburg Catholic, where he worked with Ryan Green, now considered one of the nation’s top running back recruits.
“He was a great coach for us and was great with the kids,” St. Petersburg Catholic coach Steve Dudley said. “It was all positive for us. I don’t think he was out there seeking to become a head coach. (Northside) sought him. And he listened. It’s a great opportunity for him.”
In its coaching search, Northside Christian looked mostly at local candidates. Hernandez hoped to have a coach in place by the time spring practice started in May.
It became clear in the past two weeks that the school had turned its attention to Alstott, who is certain to draw crowds at games by virtue of his name alone.
Making a winner of the Mustangs is far less certain.
This is the first head coaching job for Alstott. He takes over a program that had fewer than 20 players on varsity by the end of last season and no junior varsity team. Northside has not made the playoffs since 2006.
“This is a new adventure for Mike,” Hernandez said. “But he’s doing it for the right reasons. He told me during the interview that he is indebted to the game of football and wants to give back.”
Bob Putnam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org