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River Ridge has found its man to take over the Royal Knights football program after former coach Tim Stevens was dismissed following the 2010 season.
Gary Allen, a long-time assistant coach at River Ridge, has been selected as the next Royal Knights’ head coach, according to River Ridge athletic director Jack Homko.
Allen is a physical education teacher at River Ridge. In addition to serving as an assistant coach on the Royal Knights’ football staff – most recently as a wide receivers and defensive backs coach in 2009 – Allen has coached varsity boys basketball, junior varsity boys basketball, junior varsity baseball and track at River Ridge.
“He’s been at River Ridge for probably ten years, if not longer than that," Homko said. “He’s coached numerous other sports…He’s a long-time assistant coach that has put in his due. It was a good fit. Hopefully, he can infuse some energy into the program.”
Allen spent last season as a running backs coach at Nature Coast. He held a variety of titles during his 10 years as an assistant at River Ridge, including the position of offensive coordinator. Allen also spent time as an assistant at Ridgewood and said, all told, he has spent 23 years coaching in Pasco County.
“I’m ecstatic,” Allen said. “This was a position I really desired to have. I applied for a few jobs over the years, including the Hudson job and the Fivay job last season. But you could say that this was ultimately my goal or the position I most would have liked to have had.”
Allen graduated from Saint Leo where he was the last quarterback on the school’s final football team before dropping the sport. He has never been a high school head football coach, but he was the head football coach at Bayonet Point Middle School in New Port Richey for two seasons.
Homko said that the final decision came down to Allen, River Ridge head junior varsity football coach Brian Hooker and Ryan Benjamin, a River Ridge graduate and long snapper on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl-winning squad in 2002.
Allen is hoping to resurrect a River Ridge program that has been mired in mediocrity in recent years. Stevens went 9-41 in his five seasons at River Ridge and never qualified for the playoffs.
“We’re really trying to energize things and do things on a first-class basis,” Allen said. “We’re not just concerned with wins and losses, although that is certainly very important. But, we’re concerned with building young men of high character.”