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Gary Allen resigns at River Ridge; cites medical condition
Posted May 31, 2011 by Mike Camunas
Updated May 31, 2011 at 02:13 PM
For Gary Allen it’s, unfortunately, one and done.
After being River Ridge’s coach for just three and a half months, Allen told the Tampa Tribune on Tuesday that he told his players of his resignation, citing a medical condition to his back after consultation with his doctor told him he needed to “stop what he was doing,” including all football activity. Allen’s reign at River Ridge was brief, coaching the Royal Knights through spring practice, which included a 41-34 loss to Fivay on May 25.
“Let’s just say this is not how I wanted the scenario to play out,” Allen said, his voice filled with sadness, of his first head coaching job after he was hired on Jan. 10 to replace Tim Stevens after going 9-41 in the past five seasons. “I want everyone to know this isn’t because of something that happened with a player or some parents. This is strictly based on what a doctor has told me and what I personally feel. It would be selfish of me to put myself in harm’s way because I have a family to provide for and because I don’t want something to happen during the season and leave the team without any leadership.
“Let’s just say this was not an easy decision.”
Allen, who spent last season as a running backs coach at Nature Coast, has been an assistant in some capacity for 10 years at River Ridge, including offensive coordinator, was an assistant at Ridgewood and spent 23 years coaching in Pasco County, was told by his doctor that if he continued “doing what I am doing I will drop somewhere and require emergency surgery.” Allen added his doctor wouldn’t perform surgery if Allen insisted on returning to football activities.
Allen, who will continue to be a physical education teacher at River Ridge, says being a head football coach was “something he’d been looking forward to for many years and was thankful to the administration for giving him the opportunity” but felt his brief stint “being taken away so suddenly (was) troubling.”
“I have my family to think about,” Allen added. “My family and my faith are my priorities, then my health, and then River Ridge football is after that. I will remain loyal to the program and help the kids as much as am I’m physically able to do.”
Now, finding Allen’s replacement becomes a bit tricky for athletic director Jack Homko. River Ridge, after losing 20 positions at the school, does not have a teaching vacancy to go along with the football supplemental position. To add to that, some assistants are being transferred to other schools, such as defensive coordinator Brian Hooker being moved to Hudson. Hooker, along with River Ridge grad and former Tampa Bay Buccaneers long snapper, Ryan Benjamin, were the other candidates to apply for the head coach job.
“I’m kind of stuck right now,” Homko said. “It’s a tough time in the year, so we’ll see how it goes over the summer. Someone may retire or move.”
There is potential that a teaching vacancy opens up, as Stevens, who worked as an assistant with Gulf’s program during spring practice, put in a voluntary move to that school.
“Normally,” Homko added, “everyone is in place by this time. I haven’t even spoken to the rest of the staff to see if they’re interested in the job. We’ll advertise the job as supplemental, but I have no potential candidates as of this moment.”
“Gary did a great job in such a short time. You did see a change, and it’s unfortunate of these circumstances because there was a clear indication that it was getting better and headed in the right direction.”
Homko said Allen was preaching brotherhood and bonding to his team, which makes Allen’s football career more than likely being done that much more difficult.
“Let’s just it was emotional for both sides,” Allen said. “And let’s just say telling them I’m resigning is not something I ever want to do again.”