Bob Strong, a 33-year-old social studies teacher from Oscoda, Mich., is the first coaching hire in the history of Nature Coast Technical High School, which is scheduled to open in August. He will coach boys varsity basketball.
Strong, a seventh-year head coach, turned a struggling Oscoda Area High program into a team that made the state final eight in his second season.
His squads were rated academic all-state the past four years and won sportsmanship awards the last two.
"This was an opportunity to be in a growing school district," Strong said. "It's also certainly one of the nice facilities I've seen."
NCT's first head football coach is among the following candidates: Springstead assistant Danny Garofano, Fort Walton Beach assistant Glenn Mayer, Dean Fabritizio, who has worked at Edgewater and Orlando Bishop Moore, and Tommy Keeler, the head coach at East Lake in Tarpon Springs.
Nature Coast Tech principal Tizzy Schoelles said Keeler was the runner-up to former Central coach Steve Crognale when she was on a search committee to replace then-Bears coach Barry Gardner.
Keeler refused to comment Wednesday.
"We've gone from 55 to 18 and now four," Schoelles said. "We hope to have it done within a few days."
Strong will teach in the social studies/automotive/construction cluster. All NCT sports except football are scheduled to begin play on the varsity level next year, Schoelles said.
"We'll find out what kind of kids we have when they come in," Strong said. "But if we have the 1,700 or so we're supposed to, we should be okay."
Brooksville's Troy Adams had his best finish as a professional rider last weekend in the Daytona Supercross, placing seventh in the 125-cc class. Mike Brown won the event. He was followed by Brandon Jesseman and Shae Bentley.
The 20-year-old Adams, competing for Team MOTO XXX/Yoshimura, has been steadily improving in his first pro season. He finished ninth Feb. 22 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. Adams is 18th in the American Motorcycle Association 125cc rankings.
_ BRANT JAMES
Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to brantsptimes.com.