Moments after one Manatee County football program announced a fresh, new face as its next head coach on Friday, word came that one of Bradenton’s Hall of Fame coaches would be leading an area program again.
Lakewood Ranch announced Christopher Culton as its next head coach, while Cardinal Mooney promoted former Southeast High coach Paul Maechtle as its new head coach.
Culton replaces Mick Koczersut, who resigned in January, and Maechtle takes over for Drew Lascari, who resigned last week to take a job with Rutgers University.
“That left the program here in a situation, where they could keep some sense of balance ... with the people that are still here,” Maecthle said.
Culton, a Cocoa Beach native, spent the past year away from coaching football in the private sector.
Before that, he was an assistant coach for Navy for 14 seasons.
Now he’s getting the chance to be a high school head coach with Friday’s announcement.
“I understand what Lakewood Ranch is and I understand what their goal is,” Culton said. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Culton, who is relocating with his wife, Amanda, and five kids from Emerald Isle, N.C., beat out a field of more than 100 applicants that was narrowed down to six finalists who were offered interviews.
Of the six, athletic director Shawn Trent said only four had an interview with a search committee of five people, which included Trent, Lakewood Ranch Principal Craig Little, Assistant Principal Valencia Lowen, longtime assistant coach Jacob Sponsel and a parent representative.
Culton’s hiring is contingent on passing a background check and getting a teaching position at the school, Trent said.
“If there was one key point that sold me, I’d say maybe the correlation between our reasoning,” Trent said.
Culton already has a built-in knowledge of Manatee County.
His father played at Manatee High, and he’s known Sarasota Riverview head coach Josh Smithers and Venice head coach John Peacock through his college football playing days at Georgia Southern.
Culton is also familiar with Manatee High head coach Yusuf Shakir, having played against him in high school and with him in the North/South All-Star game.
His previous coaching experience includes coaching offensive tackles and tight ends at Rhode Island for one year, before becoming an assistant coach at Navy from 2003-17.
At Navy, Culton coached running backs from 2003-07 and the offensive line from 2008-14.
Culton met with the Lakewood Ranch players on Friday. Culton said they’ll run the triple option on offense, and one of the things he likes about the school is the continuity with previous head coaches such as Faust Delazzer, Trent and Koczersut still on campus.
Meanwhile, Maechtle racked up 283 victories and two state championships over a 33-year career at Southeast.
With the Seminoles, he reached the state title game five times and claimed eight region championships and 17 district titles.
Prior to the East Manatee County expansion that saw Lakewood Ranch High and Braden River High getting built, the Noles dominated the 1990s and were one of two programs — with Lakeland High — to win 100 games in the decade.
Maechtle then decided to join Cardinal Mooney’s staff as an assistant to coach his grandsons.
Following Lascari’s departure last week, Maecthle and the rest of the staff discussed what was next for the program.
“We wanted to create an environment of continuity and stability,” Maechtle said.
Maechtle said he supported Lascari’s decision to join Rutgers football program.
Eventually, he decided to take the job and said he’s met with the players.