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River Ridge coach quits after two years

Robert Strong resigned his coaching post Tuesday after two seasons at River Ridge.

Strong could not be reached for comment, but sent the Times an e-mail with a brief statement.

"I do not know what I plan to do in the future, but I will probably head on," he wrote. "I think RR is going in the right direction and will be successful next year."

Strong is the second basketball coach to resign this month, following Gene Pieper, who left Zephyrhills, also after two seasons.

"On the court, (Strong) did a pretty good job," River Ridge athletic director Jack Homko said. "He just needed to step back and this was his way of doing it."

Strong found it difficult dealing with parents, the booster club and the concession stand while his team struggled to a 9-13 record, Homko said.

"He had a little bit of frustration," Homko said. "The season hadn't gone as well as he had hoped. Everything else piles up on you.

"He had put a lot of pressure on himself."

Strong amassed a record of 17-28 during his two seasons with the Royal Knights.

He was hired at River Ridge in May 2004 just weeks after he resigned from Nature Coast to spend more time with his family, he told the Times in 2004. Strong was 6-18 at Nature Coast.

After accepting the River Ridge position, Strong said Nature Coast's lack of a feeder system to develop basketball talent also weighed on his decision.

Nick Chaykowski remains as the only River Ridge coach to lead the Royal Knights to a postseason berth, which he did in 1999.

He resigned for a coaching job in Tennessee after one season.

Homko will immediately begin his search for a new coach, his second major search in two months.

River Ridge hired Tim Stevens to coach football.

"Obviously, we'll start right away in regards to accepting applicants. I have to determine a deadline. We have to wait and see and let people know about it and go from that point."

- Contact Izzy Gould at (813) 909-4612 or sportsjournalistgmail.com.

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