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East County Wednesday, Mar. 20, 2019 1 year ago

Lakewood Ranch High announces new football coach

He was previously an assistant with the program in 2002.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

Lakewood Ranch High has found its next football coach. 

Former Southeast High head coach Rashad West will take over the program, the school announced at a news conference March 20. West started his coaching career at Lakewood Ranch in 2002 as an assistant. He coached Southeast, his alma mater, for two seasons, from 2016-2017. The Seminoles went 5-13 during his tenure, but that record does not paint the whole picture of West's teams.

Southeast went 4-6 in West's first season and made the playoffs, losing 33-24 to Dunbar High in the first round. The Seminoles started the 2017 season 6-1 before the school self-reported the use of an academically-ineligible player to the Florida High School Athletic Association, which punished the program by having it retroactively forfeit all six of its wins. After winning its final game against Harmony High, Southeast would finish the season with a 1-7 record. 

West resigned from Southeast following the 2017 season. West said he resigned because of differences of opinion with the school's athletic department. 

"It was probably best for me and the program to part ways at that time," West said. "There are some great people there. I had some great relationships there. I loved the kids there. But sometimes, things just come to an end."

West did not coach in 2018, but felt the time and place are now right for him to return. Part of the appeal of Lakewood Ranch, West said, is bringing his career full-circle and bringing the program long-awaited success. The Mustangs have not won more than six games since 2002, when West was an assistant. 

"Success means more when you build it, when you earn it," West said. 

West is the first Lakewood Ranch coaching hire under new athletic director Kent Ringquist, who was hired Feb. 27. 

"He (West) is very well organized," Ringquist said. "We liked his enthusiasm and his ability to reach the kids. I am not sure we were very good at that in the past. We think he can motivate them. We liked everything about him."

West, who played quarterback at Southeast Missouri State for two seasons (1999-2000), said his offense takes cues from spread offenses like those coached by current Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury, University of Oklahoma coach Lincoln Reilly and University of Southern California offfensive coordinator Graham Harrell, but stressed that he will tailor his playbook to fit the skills his players have. 

West will take over the program from Christopher Culton, the former Naval Academy assistant who went 0-10 in his lone season at the school. Culton left to build the football program at Parrish Community High, which will open its doors next school year. If West ends up playing a variation of the spread offense, it will be a big change in philosophy from Culton's triple-option offense. 

West said his message to his team will be one of rebirth. 

"This is the new Ranch," he said. "I want them to put their best foot forward. We are starting fresh."

Spring football begins April 22. 

I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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