SAND HILLS — Deane Bozeman School and Loren Tillman both are about to embark on a new future.
The only head football coach at the school since it opened in northern Bay County, Tillman announced Tuesday afternoon that he will not return next year as football coach and athletic director.
“I feel like for Bozeman, this gives them the best opportunity to go out and find somebody and it gives me an opportunity to go out there and find somebody,” Tillman said.
Tillman, 43, said that this season’s 2-8 record did not impact his decision.
“This isn’t something brought on in the last month or two,” Tillman said. “When we lost the players that we lost, then you lose your offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and special teams guy … I didn’t think (leaving earlier) was the right time with as many changes as we went through.”
Tillman has spent 14 years at Bozeman, guiding the football program since its inception for three years at the middle school level, two years as a junior varsity and the past nine as a Class 1A varsity team. Bozeman was 33-56 in varsity football under Tillman with two playoff appearances, the last in 2012 when the Bucks produced their best record of 8-3.
Prior to being hired at Bozeman, Tillman spent five years at Rosenwald. The Rutherford graduate currently is in his 19th year as an employee of Bay District Schools.
Tillman said he remains under contract until the end of June 2014, but didn’t rule out seeking another position in the area before then. He said that he wants to continue coaching, and because his immediate family resides in Callaway and Southport does not want to move away from the Panhandle
He said he informed the Bucks’ players of his decision on Monday and sent out an e-mail to faculty and staff at the school. His announcement on Tuesday enables Bozeman to advertise both positions following the holidays.
“I thought this was the best time for Bozeman and best time for me,” Tillman reiterated. “I love the game and plan on coaching football somewhere. This is 100 percent my decision. I am looking for change … I need a different patch of grass to cut.
“The right place will come. I always told myself that when football turns into work I’ll consider” a different challenge, possibly school administration. “I have as much fun as when I was 24 or 25 years old and got into coaching. For me, it’s the perfect situation. I get a paycheck for my hobby.”
Among his most cherished memories at Bozeman, Tillman said, was the first playoff game in school history, although he said it was about 28 degrees at South Walton with a 20 mph wind.
“It was sooooo cold,” Tillman said. “And having two kids (Chandler Burkett and Jacob Martinez) sign with Division I out of a 1A school in the same year. Having the offensive and defensive Player of the Year from The News Herald at the same time with the big schools in town.
“We’ve had 16 sign scholarships since I’ve been here. I hope to push that number to 20 before I get out of here.”