Crystal River down to two candidates

Coaching search yields assistants from Orlando Timber Creek and Gainesville.

Published March 4, 2006

CRYSTAL RIVER - And then there were two.

Orlando Timber Creek assistant Anthony Paradiso and Gainesville assistant Scott Wilson are the final candidates for the football coach position at Crystal River , principal Patrick Simon said Friday.

Simon received the names from the five-member selection committee. He said both candidates will need to submit formal applications to teach in Citrus County.

Paradiso, 28, a backup quarterback at South Florida in 1996 and 1997, is offensive coordinator at Timber Creek, a Class 6A school. In his five seasons with the Wolves, the first two as quarterbacks coach, the team has gone 22-28.

Paradiso impressed the committee with a glossy multi-page book, complete with a new Pirates mission statement stressing development of character and winning.

"I have had a goal ever since I was coaching that I would be a head coach before 30," said Paradiso, an exceptional-education teacher. "I think being a head coach is the ultimate position to reach kids."

Wilson, 51, has spent the past two seasons as offensive coordinator at Gainesville, a Class 5A squad that went 6-4 last year. According to his resume, he is an in-school detention instructor.

"I want to build a program," said Wilson, coach of Class 2A West Nassau in Callahan from 2000-03. "I'm hungry to be a head coach. I want to go to an area where I can finish my career."

Simon stressed neither candidate may get the job. The committee has recommended Paradiso and Wilson, but Simon said he will decide if the candidates can contribute to Crystal River.

"I need to find out first if they can teach," he said.

In addition to filling out an application, both candidates will be fingerprinted and drug tested. They also must submit three letters of recommendation.

As he wrestles with his first coaching search, Simon said the process puzzles him.

The first-year principal said he is surprised the committee chooses finalists first, before learning whether they can teach.

"It shouldn't be that way, but I guess that's how they do it at the coaching level," Simon said. "It's frustrating to me because it's not right. But that's how it's done."