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East Lake picks Hudson

The former assistant replaces Tom Keeler as Eagles coach.

By JOHN SCHWARB, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published April 22, 2003

Applications came in from all over Florida and even outside the state. But in the end, East Lake only had to look down a hallway for its new football coach.

Bob Hudson, an Eagles assistant for seven years, landed what he called the "job I've always wanted" last week, succeeding Tom Keeler, who is leaving after seven years.

Hudson, 32, a New Port Richey native and graduate of Gulf High, worked a number of positions on Keeler's staff, most recently as an offensive assistant. He also served two years as head junior varsity coach and also is in his third year as softball coach.

"I've been at quite a few elementary and high schools, and this is where I want to be," said Hudson, who was a finalist for the Ridgewood job last year but pulled out because of a family emergency. "The kids ultimately kept me here."

Hudson taught at a number of schools in Pasco County before landing a teaching job in dropout prevention at East Lake three years ago. He was one of five finalists interviewed, along with Clearwater assistant Otis Dixon, Boca Ciega assistant Ralph Young, former Dixie Hollins head coach Todd Wilson and Orlando Edgewater assistant Hugh Dehnart.

"He had obviously a knowledge of our system here, certainly his rapport with the community, his dedication and commitment to East Lake certainly stood out for the administration," athletic director Wayne McKnight said. "For such a young guy he's been through quite a number of experiences already."

Hudson takes over a program that has been one of the county's best in recent years, with three consecutive playoff appearances. Keeler, who is starting a new program at Nature Coast Technical High School in Hernando County, had a 43-33 record that included no losing regular seasons.

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