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Bogie lands former Storm star as coach

For the record, the new football coach at Boca Ciega says there will be no hanging nets installed, no sideboards put up and the field will remain 100 yards long.

Friday, Bogie principal John Leanes officially announced that former Pirates star and Arena Football League legend Stevie Thomas would be replacing Jean Gordon, who resigned this week.

Leanes didn't wait long in making his decision, almost immediately honing in on Thomas, Bogie's school resource officer.

"I had a lot of people that had put in applications, and none of them I really knew so I decided to go ahead and go with Stevie Thomas," he said.

Leanes said seven assistant coaches from various schools around the county applied, but when he asked his players what qualities they hoped for in a coach, a few wrote down Thomas' name.

Thomas, who starred for the Tampa Bay Storm and helped them to four AFL championships, said there were rumors during the season that Gordon was planning to leave, and recalls telling Leanes, "I wouldn't mind having that job."

"I was kind of joking around," Thomas said. "But they were interested. One thing led to another. The day the article came out that Jean was leaving, I walked in and told them I wanted the job."

Thomas said he was "kind of shocked at first" that he was hired so quickly. He has limited coaching experience, working in area youth leagues and serving as a wide receivers coach in 1995 for Gordon.

But Leanes said he and Gordon went through all the applicants and "Stevie was who we were both most comfortable with."

Thomas said he was trying to talk former Storm teammate Sylvester Bembery into becoming one of his assistants, and that former NFL star Earnest Givins had already agreed to run the offense.

"We'll be throwing a little bit more," Thomas said, laughing.

Thomas played for the Storm from 1991-99 and finished his career with New Jersey.

His No. 20 was retired by the Storm, and the team's all-time leader in receiving yards was recently named one of the AFL's top 20 players.

The AFL also released its top 20 greatest games, and Thomas was MVP in the No. 1 (1995 ArenaBowl) game and returned a kickoff 54 yards with no time remaining to give the Storm the win in the No. 2 choice (a 1995 playoff game).

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