Steve Allen, the football coach at Flagler Palm Coast High School since 2002 and only the fourth (and longest-serving) football coach in the school’s history, resigned abruptly on Friday, five weeks before players’ first scrimmage. A serious family crisis compelled the move.
“In his letter of resignation, he’s citing personal reasons and spending more time with his family,” Jacob Oliva, principal at the high school, said Monday. “I think he’s a little burnt out on coaching.”
Just two weeks ago, speaking before the Flagler County Rotary, Allen previewed the season with high expectations, predicted that the team would make the play-offs on the strength of a strong core of returning sophomores and juniors. Allen gave no indication that he was thinking of leaving. He also spoke about Marshawn Gilyard (whom Allen dubbed Mardy, and who led FPC to two consecutive playoff appearances in 2003 and 2004) as an example of Allen’s coaching philosophy: creating men as well as football players. “The only thing he talked about,” said Lloyd Freckleton, a member of the Rotary, “was the football program.”
And on June 15, the Flagler County School Board approved Allen’s re-appointment on a 206-day contract, reflecting his coaching duties, rather than the 196-day contracts for regular teachers. Allen was a PE teacher.
As the head football coach, Allen earned an additional $4,500—compared with $2,500 for assistant football coaches—the highest rate for any head coach other than the cheerleading head coach, who is paid an extra $5,000 for the year (that coach’s job being considered year-round rather than seasonal).
Allen, 47, did not have the closest relationship with Steve DeAugustino, the athletic director at the high school, and there was friction between Allen and the administration. But that’s nothing new. Some questions were raised over a special bank account Allen controlled, though school officials said no irregularities were found. Oliva said that between Allen’s “internal account here and his booster account with the school, he’s 100 percent paid and everything is fine.”
DeAugustino said likewise. “From what I understand from him is that he’s got some family things he needs to take care of,” DeAugustino said. Allen has a daughter who started high school at Spruce Creek High School.
“He has done amazing things for kids and he has done amazing things for our community,” Bill Delbrugge, the former school superintendent, said. “He was very good to his kids. A lot of his boys looked at him as a second dad.”
The Bulldogs’ first game of the season is on Sept. 3 against Matanzas High School, at Matanzas.
DeAugustino said he plans to name a new football coach within a week to 10 days. “We’re obviously going to meet with the kids and the coaches first, which is going to be this Wednesday, and go from there,” DeAugustino said. “There’s a lot of options. We have a good, solid coaching staff that’s been around a long time. We’ll look there first. I don’t know how many are interested and how many aren’t.”
The assistant head coach is Norris Lightsey. Other assistant coaches include Tommy Moody, Robert Ripley and Ward Silvola. Travis Lee is the head junior varsity coach. The Bulldogs made the playoffs four times under Allen (in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007) and were district champions in 2005 and 2007. DeAugustino said Allen is the winningest coach in the school’s history for having been the longest-serving coach, but does not have the highest winning percentage. In the last two seasons, the Bulldogs were 8-12.
The late Sal Campanella hired Allen as FPC’s football coach in December 2001 to replace Gene Willis, who’d retired from teaching and coaching that year. Willis had coached for seven years over two stints, compiling a 33-37 record. Allen was the head boys’ golf coach at Atlantic High School in Volusia County at the time. (He still lives in Port Orange.) Allen had also been an offensive and defensive coordinator at the school in the mid-1990s. In 2005, Allen was named Coach of the Year, by which time he’d compiled a 26-19 record.
Those years paralleled Gilyard’s days at FPC, where he amassed 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, led the team to an 8-2 record as a senior and was named Most Valuable Player of the Florida Coast All-Star Game. Asked to name a football movie that best exemplifies FPC football, Allen, in 2006, cited “Remember the Titans.” Allen, who prized loyalty, explained: “I just think that with our kids, we don’t have any divisions, be that race, be that economic class, be that ego. We worry about each other and who we’re loyal to.”
Update: On July 9, DeAugustino named Cesar Campana, 56, head coach. Campana was an assistant coach with Allen from 2004-08, and was head coach at schools in orlando and Edgewater for some 15 years in the 1980s and 1990s.