Western Michigan product Walden becomes Bears’ 10th head football coach

FOOTBALL

Former Explorer K-8 PE teacher

served as athletic director, head

football, track coach for 8 years

By TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

BROOKSVILLE – The search to fill Central High School’s one-month old vacant head coaching football position concluded Wednesday.

Rob Walden

CHS Athletic Director Al Sorrentino announced via a one-sentence text that, “Central High School is happy to announce the hiring of Rob Walden as our next Head Varsity Football Coach.”

Walden, 38, replaces John Warren.

According to Sorrentino, on the last day of school Warren “resigned at Central High School to take another non-coaching opportunity at a school in Texas.”

Warren, a veteran football coach, guided the Bears’ fortunes since being hired in February, 2018.

Celebrating its 30th varsity season last fall, the Bears suffered its initial 0-10 campaign.

The Ken Austin Parkway crew, which was decimated by graduation losses, a thin roster, and injuries, set school records for futility.

John Warren

The Bears scored its least amount of points ever (38) and was shutout seven times.

In all the Bears were out-scored by 288 points, 326-38.

Since 2007 – Cliff Lohrey’s second season at the helm – the Bears have been outscored for 11 consecutive seasons.

During that span, its leaky defense has yielded 300 or more points eight times, including over 400 points three times.

Cliff Lohrey

The Bears’ last winning season was 2016 during Chris Sands’ third year at 6-4.

CHS has not reached the FHSAA regional playoffs since Lohrey’s 2006 squad went 8-3 and captured the Class 4A, District 8 title before falling at the Bears’ Den to Daytona Beach-Seabreeze – on the last offensive snap of the game – 21-20.

Walden 101

Coach Walden arrives from nearby Explorer K-8 in Spring Hill.

Western Michigan University Broncos

Walden and his wife were hired almost directly after graduation from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo at J.D. Floyd.

His wife still teaches elementary school there.

Walden, a physical education instructor, has spent the last eight years as the Bobcats’ head football, track and field coach and as well as athletic director.

The Walden’s have two sons – ages 6 and 8.

Explorer K-8 Bobcats

Coach Walden replaced Frank Hynes as the Bobcats’ Head Football Coach after three seasons.

Over the past eight seasons, the Bobcats have compiled a 25-21-1 slate.

Last year, Explorer reached the Hernando County Middle School Athletic Conference football playoffs before being knocked out in the first round by Challenger K-8, 21-14.

At press time, it was unclear whether Walden, who is certified in physical education and teaching ESE students, would necessarily fill a PE slot or teach ESE.

Rob Walden

Asked why he chose to apply for the Central High gig now, “I’ve been applying,“ noted Walden. “I think I’m a better fit for high school than middle school. When I heard about the vacancy, I put my name in the hat.

“… Fortunately, I got the call I’ve been waiting for. I’m super excited for the opportunity.”

Walden understands the situation he’s walking into, “I know about the turnover there. It’s an underdog mentality, but I’ve accepted the responsibility at Explorer and built a respectable program.

“Coaching football is something I love to do. I realize the school is taking a chance with me, but I believe in the coaches we have to create a great environment,” noted Walden.

One of the first orders of business is finalizing his coaching staff.

He said he’ll me initially meet with each of last year’s coaches to see if they’d like to stay on.

“The guys I’ve met so far, I’ve enjoyed talking with,” explained Walden.

On his main emphasis, “Equipping the kids with the tools to play the game correctly. I’d like us to play fast and keep things simple. We’re not using elaborate schemes here.

Offensively, Walden says his teams will “believe in the run and perfect the pass.”

Defensively, expect the Bears to open in a 40-front and make adjustments from there.

As far as early goals, “Job 1 is to believe can be great regardless of what anyone says outside this locker room,” shared Walden. “Job 2, I’m a firm believer that if you do things the right way, the scoreboard will take care of itself.”

“I can’t stress this enough. We need, as a whole to get bigger, faster, stronger,” noted Walden. “All I want our guys to do is control what they can control.”

By the Numbers: Explorer K-8 Bobcats’

Rob Walden (2011-18/8 Seasons)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

 

YEAR

 

W

 

L

 

T

 

.PCT

 

PS

 

PA

 

HOME

 

AWAY

 

COACH

2011

3

4

0

.429

Walden, Rob

2012

2

2

1

.500

97

67

Walden, Rob

2013

4

1

0

.800

162

77

2-0

2-1

Walden, Rob

2014

2

3

0

.400

82

95

2-1

0-2

Walden, Rob

2015

4

2

0

.667

194*

94

1-2

*3-0

Walden, Rob

2016

4

2

0

.667

126

101

2-1

2-1

Walden, Rob

2017

3

3

0

.500

70

96

1-2

2-1

Walden, Rob

2018

3

4

0

.429

133

79

2-4

1-0

Walden, Rob

 

TOT

 

25

 

21

 

1

 

.543

864  

609

 

 

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