Dave Cleppe has been patiently waiting to become a head football coach in Pinellas County. Now he finally gets his chance.
Cleppe, 52, was named coach at St. Petersburg Catholic after four years as an assistant at the school. Cleppe started as an assistant coach at SPC in 1986 before stints at Gibbs, Boca Ciega, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg. His emphasis at all those schools has been offense.
“It’s like I’ve come full circle,’’ Cleppe said. “I actually started out at St. Pete Catholic under coach Mike June. I’ve been fortunate enough to work under a lot of good coaches.’’
Cleppe will remain a physical education teacher at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Pinellas Park. He said if a teaching position opens up at SPC he would look into taking it.
Cleppe said he will retain four assistant coaches who worked under former coach Steve Dudley. He plans to have a full complement of assistants before the start of spring practices.
There will be less of an adjustment period at SPC for Cleppe. His son, Brad, will be a senior on the team. His daughter, Becky, is a junior at the school. And his wife, Irene, is an SPC graduate.
Cleppe said he’s ready to take over his first program.
“We’re trying to build a program here,’’ Cleppe said. “I’ve received a lot of support so far from the administration. I’ve known all these kids for the past four years and I know they’ve all been wondering who the next coach is going to be. They are ready to get to work.’’