Wesley Chapel didn't have a huge pep rally for its new head football coach, but that doesn't mean the school was any less excited about its hire.
The school announced Monday night it had selected former Pasco quarterback Ben Alford to be the second head coach in program history. He replaces John Castelamare, who established the program when the school opened in 1999 and is in his final year of the Deferred Retirement Option Program.
Alford, 25, might best be remembered for his stellar career with the Pirates. He threw for 3,225 yards and 50 touchdowns as a three-year varsity starter from 2000-02.
Alford played at North Iowa Area Community College then transferred to Northern Iowa, where injuries stymied his career. Alford said he was forced to quit playing last year after suffering his 15th concussion.
Coaching was always part of his long-term plan.
"For me to get this opportunity, I'm not going to take it lightly," Alford said. "It's truly a blessing for me to get this job at my age."
While Alford's critics might point to his age as a drawback, athletic director Steve Mumaw noted Alford's energy and enthusiasm set him apart.
Alford sent the school a 60-page portfolio of his coaching plan.
"We're looking for someone to breathe new life into our program," Mumaw said. "With the questions we asked and his enthusiasm, it's clear he's the right person to do that."
Alford has been married three years (Ashley) and has two boys (Brayton, 2; Taylen, 6 months). He has been waiting tables at Ruby Tuesday's while working as an assistant coach at Iowa Area Community College, where he did everything from defensive coordinator to conditioning.
One of Alford's first tasks will be to select a staff. Mumaw said all assistant supplements will be advertised and current coaches are welcome to reapply.
Alford is in the process of obtaining a temporary teaching certificate so he can join the Wesley Chapel staff after he moves from Iowa.
In terms of football, Alford will try to revive what has been a stagnant program, which hasn't had a winning record since it went 7-3 in 2004.
"I don't think anybody would outwork Ben," said Ricky Thomas, who coached him at Pasco. "As a player, no one worked harder. … He was very loyal to me. With today's players he's young enough to be able to relate to them and understand them."
Izzy Gould can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 421-3886.