ST. PETERSBURG — Six months on the job, Northside Christian coach Andre Dobson has dealt with plenty of subtractions. Gone are 14 seniors from last season's team. Also missing are two players who transferred to another school.
And that is not the toughest part of the job.
Dobson inherits the difficult position of taking over the program from Bob Dare, the school's all-time winningest coach who was let go after 28 years.
Dobson knows his every move will be dissected by loyal followers not quite sure how to view the person taking over for their revered coach.
It's not good enough to win games. Dobson has to win over skeptical players and fans.
"I knew it was going to be a tough transition," Dobson said. "The team did well under Dare and I knew I wouldn't have to teach these kids how to win."
The job is one for which Dobson has spent years preparing.
A former player and coach at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., Dobson was head coach the past three seasons at Monte Vista Christian in Watsonville, Calif., where he took over a program that lost 30 straight games. He showed steady improvement, winning three games in 2005, four in 2006 and five last season.
"I was excited about the way we were able to turn things around," Dobson said.
Now, he is trying to keep Northside in the playoff hunt.
Dobson realizes the team is different than the one Dare left.
"Most of the guys that left got all the playing time," Dobson said.
Still, he's starting to see some progress. This week, three players from the baseball team decided to come out.
"I'm glad that I was able to come here in the spring and get things established," Dobson said. "We'll definitely be tested this year. But we'll get through it, and I think we'll be good down the long stretch."
Bob Putnam can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.