School board voted Friday morning to make job offer. District rep indicates Friday evening acceptance procedure should be concluded by Saturday evening
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — A choice has been made by Chillicothe R-2 School District officials on who they want to have as the new high school football head coach for 2018 and it now appears the hire should become effective Saturday afternoon or evening.
Public announcement of who will become the retired Phil Willard's replacement now is anticipated Saturday, after the candidate formally signs a document committing him to accepting the district's offer, Dan Nagel, Chillicothe High athletics director, indicated to local media Friday evening.
As the district’s Board of Education concluded its special meeting Friday just after 11 a.m., Nagel spoke with the C-T outside district headquarters and shared that he hoped to get confirmed acceptance by midday Sunday, at the latest. He reported Friday evening that the intended new coach has a conflict with being in Chillicothe to formalize his acceptance Sunday, but could do so the day before.
Nagel stated he’d contact other finalists for the vacancy Friday to inform them they were not the district’s initial choice.
The vacancy officially was created in mid-December when long-time head coach Phil Willard submitted a letter of retirement after 20 years of leading the CHS program. However, district officials had understood prior to that that the retirement was a distinct possibility and perhaps likely.
Willard had indicated to reporters for the past several years that he was proceeding on a year-to-year basis, as far as his interest in continuing to coach. It had been widely anticipated, once his son Jack entered high school in 2014-15, that the coach likely would stay in the post at least through the now-senior's high school career.
Complicating the search for his successor were the fact that Willard had been retired from the district’s teaching staff for a number of years and that few staff resignations or planned retirements had been received, as of February’s monthly school board meeting.
Those factors limited the options for matching a prospective new coach from outside the district with available staff slots.
Another potential hurdle was indicated plans from several long-time assistant football coaches that they did not intend to continue in that extra-duty capacity in 2018-19, although they would remain in their current instructional or administrative positions with the district, thus not freeing any potential staff slots for a new coach or any new assistant coaches who might be needed or desired by the new head coach.
While the CHS officials leading the search for the new head coach have not shared publicly the identities of any of the approximately 15-20 applicants for the job nor the identities of those “finalists” who were formally interviewed, sources have cited several Chillicothe graduates and former football Hornets as among that group. The names of several current and former head coaches from other schools in both the region and elsewhere around Missouri also have been speculated as having pursued the opening.