January 19, 2006
Valdosta - The waiting is almost over for Valdosta High fans.
The search for a new head coach is entering the home stretch with four finalists in town Thursday for a second round of interviews.
The Valdosta city school board has a called meeting Thursday night where they are expected to meet with the four candidates.
Valdosta High principal Brett Stanton, who has led the search, would not divulge who those four finalists are.
But WALB News Ten Sports has learned their names.
The four finalists are Washington County head coach Rick Tomberlin, Walton High head coach Ed Dudley, Roger Holmes of Dublin and Sean Callahan who is the head coach Armwood High in Sumter County, Florida.
Tomberlin has led the Golden Hawks to three state titles, Dudley's Walton Raiders beat Valdosta in the 2004 playoffs, Dublin has been a perennial AA powerhouse under Holmes and Callahan won two state 4A titles in Florida in 2003 and 2004 and lost the state championship game to a St. Augustine Nease team that was quarterbacked by Florida signee Tim Tebow.
The biggest challenge facing the next Valdosta High coach may be off the field than on.
Support for the Wildcat program suffered after the firing of Mike O'Brien three years ago and the tenure of former coach Rick Darlington who resigned after the 2005 season.
That is why Valdosta is looking for a head coach who will not lead the students but alwo win back community support for the Wildcat program.
Brett Stanton said "Someone that will be embraced by our community. Someone that our players know that they can connect with and they can relate with. That they know they have a head coach that cares about them. Not only talks the talk but actually walks the walk."
The Valdosta city school board is expected to hire a new head coach on Monday night.