Other Austin leads Northeast

Jay Austin, son of retired coach Jerry, is promoted to head coach of the Vikings.

Published January 17, 2007

Northeast's new football regime still has the same last name.

Assistant coach Jay Austin was elevated to head coach on Tuesday by principal Patricia Wright. Austin replaces his father, Jerry Austin, the county's all-time winningest coach who retired in December after 28 years at the school.

"I don't think anyone can really replace someone like my dad," Austin said. "I think you can just hope to fill in."

Austin, 34, played for his father from 1986-89 and was an assistant coach with him the past 10 seasons.

His close ties with the program helped set him apart from other candidates, including finalists Dave Angelo (Largo), Joseph Boyer (Indian Rocks), Bill Berry (Clearwater), Dave Cleppe (Gibbs) and George Palmer (Osceola).

"There were some very good candidates," Wright said. "Jay is going to provide for us that familiarity. We also wanted someone to look at the overall program - not just the sport of football - someone who can help kids become good citizens and excel academically, as well as (show) character."

Austin will spend the next few weeks trying to fill out his staff. One assistant who will not be back is defensive coordinator Jim Cornillaud, who is retiring after 27 seasons.

"(Cornillaud) just wanted to go out the same time as my dad," Austin said. "We're losing a lot of experience."

At least the Vikings will have some veteran players. Nine starters return from last year's 7-3 team. Many of them play on both sides of the ball.

"Jay will do a good job," Palmer said. "They've got a lot of young kids coming back, so we'll have our hands full."

Austin will take over playcalling duties. He will still use the Wing-T, which has been a staple at the school since he started coaching there.

"We're not going to change much with our philosophy," Austin said. "I might open it up a little more, maybe double our passing attempts. Of course, that's just from four passing plays to eight."

Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report.