Rashad West, former head coach of Southeast High School’s football team, is taking the reigns at Lakewood Ranch High School.
An official announcement came Wednesday night at a meeting of the Lakewood Ranch Athletic Booster Club, which was followed by a press conference.
West told the boosters that he is signed on for at least eight years.
“As long as you’ll have me, this is it,” West said. “I want our kids to feel like this is the new Ranch. Whatever was before is done.”
West will replace Christopher Culton as the Mustangs’ head coach. Culton left after one season to become the first coach at the new Parrish Community High School this fall.
West, who played college football at Southeast Missouri State, is a Southeast High graduate and last coached at Southeast, where he guided the Seminoles to the playoffs in the first of his two seasons there.
He resigned from Southeast following the 2017 season and spent the last year away from coaching.
Lakewood Ranch was West’s first coaching job out of college. He was an assistant with the Mustangs in 2002.
“I’m excited to be coming back to this community,” West said. “I have experience with Manatee County football. That’s what this is about. This has brought my career full circle.”
Lakewood Ranch went winless last season, but West says he is no stranger to turning around a struggling football program.
When he started as a coach at Western High School in Davie, Fla., the school’s team had just come off 1-9 and 2-8 seasons.
“That experience helps me understand the patience that it’s going to take to get this done,” West said.
On Wednesday, he gave some hints about where he will start with the team’s transformation.
“I’d like to see us getting back to being physical and detailed,” West said. “We have to work to change their mentality within the program.”
The school considered coaches from throughout Florida and the U.S. for the position, according to athletics director Kent Ringquist.
“We’re really happy with our choice and excited he decided to come here,” Ringquist said. “He’s very well organized, he’s enthusiastic and he’s very good at reaching the kids.”
West says he is most looking forward to working with kids again — and getting that first win.
“We’re going to win a game,” West said. “I’m looking forward to watching the kids have success. The challenge of this is so appealing to me.”