Jim Dawson, a longtime high school football assistant on the Kenai Peninsula, will take over the Kenai Central program from John Marquez.
Kenai assistant principal Jim Beeson said Marquez resigned during the school year, mostly due to personal reasons.
When asked why he was no longer coaching the Kardinals, Marquez said, “It was a decision in the best interest of the program.”
He said any more questions should be referred to Beeson or other members of the Kenai Central administration.
Marquez coached the Kardinals for two years, leading Kenai to a small-schools state title in 2011. The Kardinals then missed the playoffs in 2012.
“I really appreciate all the support not only from the parents, but from the community,” Marquez said. “It was second to none. It did not compare to everywhere else I have been.”
Marquez will continue to teach physical education at Kenai Central.
Beeson said the first preference was to hire a teacher and football coach for one of the open teaching positions, but the perfect match could not be found.
So a few weeks ago, Kenai Central hired Dawson, who has been an assistant on the Kenai Peninsula for over 20 years but never a head coach.
Beeson said current assistant coach and former head coach Jeff Baker will continue to be involved with the program.
Beeson, who was the head coach for the Kardinals for 19 seasons, also said that he will be involved in some capacity.
“I think it’ll work out well,” Beeson said. “We’re all a little older. I wouldn’t say this is a long-term solution.”
Beeson said the current plan is to groom a young teacher to take over the program in two to three years.
Beeson said football is the lone varsity head-coaching change for the Kards.
Head-coaching transitions are similarly few at other Peninsula schools.
In Homer, Pam Newton will be stepping down as athletic director, while Mark Casseri will be taking over. Douglas Waclawski, the new principal at Homer, also wrote in an email this week that football head coach Camron Wyatt will not be coming back. Waclawski wrote he will have details on the change later in the w eek.
At Soldotna, principal Todd Syverson said Bruce King in volleyball is the lone varsity head coaching change.
In Nikiski, athletic director Dylan Hooper said there will be no changes.
At Skyview, athletic director Kent Peterson said Lindsay Fagrelius will take over the swim program, while the Panthers also will have a new cheer coach.
At Cook Inlet Academy, athletic director Rick Musgrove said Rustin Hitchcock will step down as volleyball coach. Hitchcock will be back as girls basketball coach to defend the Eagles’ Class 1A crown, though.
At Ninilchik School, principal Jeffrey Ambrosier said the lone change is in volleyball, where Dana Strong has left his post.
Seward athletic director Sami King said there will be one change — Tim Lebling in girls soccer.
Lebling has coached soccer in Seward for 10 years, including the last five as the girls varsity coach. He is moving to the East Coast.
Lebling said it has been great to watch the growth of soccer on the Peninsula.
“It’s also been great to coach against all the other Peninsula teams,” he said. “We became a pretty tight-knit group.”