Haines City Finds New Football Coach
Tue. December 11, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. | By Polk Preps Staff
By SOLANGE REYNER
LAKELAND | Haines City has a new head football coach.
Ron Johnson, a University of South Florida grad who was an assistant coach at Lake Wales last year, was hired Tuesday. Johnson played football at Armwood High School and later at USF.
Before coaching the defensive line at Lake Wales, he was an assistant coach at Kathleen and Lakeland, positions he held for a year, and a defensive program assistant at USF from 2009-10.
Johnson, 40, takes over a program that went 1-9 this year and 0-4 in Class 7A, District 5.
Michael Styles, the athletic director at Haines City, said Johnson was selected from a group of 50 applicants. The school interviewed six finalists, and Johnson was picked because of his energy and winning pedigree, Styles said.
"We need to bring this program back to life, and he seems like he had the best energy to do that," Styles said.
"Plus he's been at winning programs since he started coaching."
Johnson said Tuesday via phone that he is excited and humbled by the opportunity.
"When the principal called me and told me that she was going to trust me with this position, I was really ecstatic," Johnson said.
One of the first things on his agenda will be to make sure the players in his program stay disciplined, he said.
"We want to win football games, but we want to make young men strong physically, emotionally and mentally. If we can control that, the wins will take care of themselves," Johnson said.
Prior to his time at USF, Johnson spent five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He walked onto the USF football program at age 25 and later received a full scholarship, playing there as a defensive tackle for three seasons.
The USF website said Johnson was nicknamed "Uncle Ron" by coaches and teammates "for his mentorship of the younger players."
LAKE REGION'S JACKSON ALSO SELECTED FOR ALL-AMERICAN GAME
James Jackson, a senior from Lake Region, was also selected to participate in the National Underclassmen All-American game, taking place Dec. 22 in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Jackson played safety this year for the Thunder. He was one of four from Polk County picked for the event. Juan Castillo and Jarred Warren from Frostproof and Dimitri Leverett of Bartow were the three other players.