PORT ST. JOE — Gulf District Schools this week formally began the search to fill the football coach/athletic director position at both public high schools.
Based on what Superintendent of Schools Jim Norton called “pre-conceived” notions, two favorites have emerged.
Norton informed the School Board Tuesday night that the football coach/athletic director positions had been advertised as of Monday.
The application window closes Friday and Norton said he expects to have a recommendation from administrators at Port St. Joe and Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High Schools next week.
Norton said he planned to have a recommendation to board members no later than the February regular meeting.
Both head football coaches are leaving their positions.
Port St. Joe coach Chuck Gannon is forced out by retirement. He is in his fifth year in the state’s deferred retirement program and cannot, by law, take a paid position with the district after this school year.
Wewahitchka coach Dennis Kizziah’s formal resignation as coach and athletic director was accepted by the board during Tuesday’s meeting.
Kizziah’s final year in the state retirement program is next school year. He will remain at Wewahitchka as a teacher and principal designee.
In addition, Kizziah’s top assistant, David Barnes, officially notified the board Tuesday that he is relocating and leaving the district.
“We have posted the jobs and the deadline for applications is Friday,” Norton said.
Former Port St. Joe coach John Palmer is the lone candidate having already applied for the Tiger Shark job, though Norton added, “The week is still early.”
Palmer left Port St. Joe in 2008 for Hernando High School, his alma mater.
In seven seasons guiding the Tiger Sharks the team was 57-27 and won the school’s fourth state title in 2005, returning to the region finals the following season.
During his tenure, Palmer’s team also captured the first state Rural School championship, in 2003, although at the time it was not recognized as a state title.
Prior to Port St. Joe, Palmer also coached in Eustis and Bronson, taking both schools to the playoffs.
Palmer stepped down as coach at Hernando, which he took to the playoffs his second season, due to health issues two years ago.
He has been a presence in the Shark Stadium press box during the 2013 season, said he was feeling good and his health issues were in the past.
Former Bozeman High School coach Loren Tillman, Norton said, is in the process of applying for the Wewahitchka job.
Norton said as with Palmer, Tillman is the only identified candidate as of press time.
Tillman has ties to Wewahitchka.
“We all have preconceived notions about these jobs, but as with any position we are going to go through the process,” Norton told board members. “We have a union and a contract and we are required to go through the process, which we are doing.
“We have had a couple of calls, but no other applications.”