P.K. Yonge lets head football coach go

Published: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 1:36 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 7, 2011 at 1:36 p.m.

After two tumultuous seasons, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School has dismissed football coach Nathaniel "Lou" Seaward.

"We have decided administratively to not renew coach Seaward's contract to coach football next year," said Russ Froman, P.K. Yonge's assistant principal who oversees athletics. "We have decided to move in a new direction with our football program. It was not moving in the positive direction we wanted it to."

The Blue Wave were 2-8 in 2009 and 2-5 this past season. Prior to the 2010 season-opener, an administrative decision was made to cancel three regular-season contests. School director Fran Vandiver said at the time the decision was about the health and safety of the players.

A lack of participation in the football program coupled with players leaving the program for area schools led to P.K. Yonge's struggles.

The school wasted no time in finding a replacement for Seaward. Rob Cox, a former varsity assistant who has coached the Blue Wave middle school program, has been elevated to head varsity coach.

Froman confirmed that the lack of participation in the varsity football program, which dressed just 18 players in last season's first game, and the transfer of players out of the program factored in the decision to make a change. He also said Vandiver, assistant principal Randy Scott, athletic director John Clifford and himself were all involved in the decision.

"That is a reflection of the lack of energy and enthusiasm surrounding our varsity football program," Froman said. "Consequently, we want to capitalize in the area we have had the most success over the recent years and that is with our middle school program.

"We have hired Rob Cox to be our head varsity coach because of the success that he has had with that program. The larger number of kids that choose to participate in his program and the fact that he has been a member of the P.K. Yonge community and has been for the last 19 years," Froman said. "Hiring him was an obvious choice in order to give us the best opportunity for success."

As for Seaward, who is expected to continue to teach weightlifting and team sports classes until the end of the school year, he was disappointed with the decision, but not surprised.

"I knew it was coming, it didn't catch me off-guard," said Seaward, an Iowa native. "They asked me to resign, but I told them I promised (players) Billy Hardaway, Domonique Jenkins and D'karas Fields that I would not quit. They obviously made their decision to not renew my contract."

Froman said the decision to remove Seaward as coach took place Thursday. Seaward, however, said he was told he was not coming back Wednesday afternoon in a meeting with Vandiver, Scott and Froman. The returning Blue Wave football players were told of the coaching change at a meeting Friday.

"I would like to thank the players and my coaching staff for all of their effort and the work they did when I was the head coach," Seaward said. "The administration would not allow me at the meeting today (Friday), when they met with the team."

The Blue Wave forfeited games against Tallahassee Florida High, Jacksonville Trinity Christian and Tallahassee North Florida Christian in the fall. A 20-6 win over Dixie County on Sept. 17 highlighted an otherwise difficult season. P.K. Yonge has received a $2,500 bill from North Florida Christian for forfeiting that contest in addition to a $500 fine from the FHSAA for canceling two district games, according to Seaward.

The lack of participation and players transferring was a difficult hurdle to get over for a small school like P.K. Yonge, which will play an independent schedule in the fall.

"It was definitely tough, you take away some stud players, Trevarris Saulsberry, Jordan Williams, Sir Jackson, Keith Kelsey and Bryce Goston," Seaward said. "Those are five guys who would have made a huge impact with us and they obviously made an impact at the places they went."

Saulsberry, who departed before Seaward arrived, and Williams are both Tennessee commitments and helped lead Gainesville to the state semifinals last month. Kelsey also went to GHS, while Jackson went to Eastside and Goston to Buchholz.

"When I came here, I was enthusiastic, I heard what a great place this was and can be and the talk about turning it around," said Seaward, who succeeded Clifford as the Blue Wave coach in April 2009. "If they would have given me and the staff the opportunity to rebuild and mold this program into the vision I had, we'd be successful, but we didn't get that chance.

"Rob Cox is a good guy and he is the one person that knows how to work with that administration. It will be a smooth transition for him."

Cox is looking forward to the challenge.

"I am honored that they thought of me for this position," said Cox, who also runs the after-school programs and summer camps at the school. "I have been part of this program for 19 years and I have done everything from being a student trainer, I have been the PA announcer, I have cut the grass, been a statistician and an assistant coach.

"I am extremely excited about the challenge and I am going to give it my best shot."

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