Sarduy, Akins named head coaches at Newberry

Published: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:13 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:13 p.m.

Changes at principal and athletic director at Newberry High on Monday resulted in a pair of new coaching hires as interim football coach Kepa Sarduy officially became the head coach and Jim Akins was named as boys basketball coach, replacing Bobby Welch.

Sarduy, who was Chris Baker's defensive coordinator a year ago, was named interim coach in April after Baker resigned to take an assistant position at Cantonment Tate. Last month, on the road, the Panthers dominated Class 5A Dunnellon, 21-6, in a spring exhibition game.

On Monday, outgoing principal Shane Andrew and incoming principal Kevin Purvis together named Sarduy coach.

Newberry, 9-4 a year ago, lost 36-35 to Trenton in the 1A state semifinals.

“I felt like we worked hard at spring and the kids did exactly what I asked of them” said Sarduy, who was an offensive line coach at Melbourne Eau Gallie before going to Newberry. He has also previously coached in Hawaii.

“Winning that game (spring game) I feel like had a lot to do with it,” he said. “Being the head coach is not just about playing games. I kept the kids out of trouble.“

In their spring win over Dunnellon, the Panthers totaled 452 yards, 380 on the ground. Running back Trace Stankunas ran for 181 yards on just 11 carries, with a 75-yard touchdown run. Newberry's defense also limited the host Tigers to 96 yards rushing.

“The expectations are going to be there, and we just need to go out and play football,” said Sarduy, a math instructor at the school. “We are going to bring a football team to a field and try to win the football game. That's our goal every time out.”

Akins, who is also an assistant football coach at Newberry, coached boys basketball the last two years at Oak View Middle School.

“I am very excited,” Akins said. “A lot of these kids I have worked with in football. I am very excited about what Newberry has to offer.”

Akins, whom Baker hired as an assistant in football while at Trenton, also coached boys basketball at Trenton Middle School for three years. He said the Panthers will have six rising seniors coming back, including three starters.

“We have a lot of experience coming back,” Akins said. “We started practice yesterday and are in a summer league with some area teams.”

After two years, Kent Johnson stepped down as athletic director at Newberry and will be a physical education instructor at Oak View Middle School.

“I think in the two years I was there we have things going in the right direction,” said Johnson, who coached Eastside football from 2002-2010, leading the Rams to five straight playoff berths from 2004-2008. “I got a lot of help being athletic director. But it got a little too busy for me.

“I still wanted to work in physical education and teach young people the right skills. It was a tough decision for me.”

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