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Tom MacPherson named new head coach of Wildcat football

Baker County High School Principal Thomas Hill announced the school has hired former Ridgeview coach Tom MacPherson as the new head coach for the Wildcats via a press release on January 15.

Coach MacPherson brings a successful pedigree with him as he takes over the Wildcats. He had been Ridgeview's coach since its inception to the FHSAA in 1999 and led the Panthers to eight playoff appearances during his tenure, including a trip to the third round of the 2008 State Playoffs. Last season, his team dominated the eventual Class 5A State Runner-Up Clay High School 28-6 and held the Blue Devils to 180 total yards and 25 points below their season average.

He has also had success against Baker County's arch-rival Bishop Kenny, who has eliminated the Wildcats from the playoffs or playoff contention for the last two years. Coach MacPherson's 2012 Panthers rallied from a 21-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Crusaders 42-35 in regulation.

The comeback win against Bishop Kenny is just one example of the high-octane offense Coach MacPherson is bringing to Baker County.

"I run a wide open offense," he told his new team in a brief meeting. "Four years ago I was one of the few coaches in the state who had a quarterback who threw for a thousand yards and ran for a thousand yards in the same year."

He created a coaching website in January 2013, known as PlayFastFootball.BlogSpot.com, and its intended to advance the game of football at the high school, middle school and little league levels.

Coach MacPherson said he is looking forward to the new phase of his career because of the passion for Wildcat football.

"I come from a county where there are 6 high schools in a 20 mile radius," he said in the meeting. "I have kids from 4 different junior high schools. I'm excited to come to a place where kids who play Pop Warner and little league football all want to grow up to be Baker County Wildcats."

Coach MacPherson played college football at St. John's University in New York where he caught 40 career touchdown passes and is a member of the St. John's University All-Era Football Team. Visit his YouTube page here.

The search to replace former BCHS varsity football coach Ryan Sulkowski was well underway this week with the school narrowing the list to five applicants early this week. The deadline to submit resumes was January 10.

Baker High received 68 resumes from coaches across the country with the “vast majority” being from the Southeast, BCHS Principal Thomas Hill said in an e-mail. Most of the hopefuls were assistant or head coaches elsewhere before applying to be the Wildcats’ next coach.

Principal Hill and Activities and Athletic Director Melody Coggin interviewed the potential coaches after narrowing the field to a handful of applicants. The school wanted a coach who could help the students both on and off the field.

“We are looking for a person that has both professional and personal good moral character,” the principal said in an e-mail prior to the announcement Wednesday. “We are searching for an individual that governs his decisions by what is in the best interest of children. The new head coach must also have multiple years of successful head coaching experience.”

Principal Hill initially said he didn't want the search to drag out, and it certainly didn't.

“It is important to have a new head coach in place as quickly as possible, but we must take the appropriate time to ensure the correct selection is made,” he said.

By Jon Shumake

Press columnist Bob Gerard also contributed to this story

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