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Jim O'Neal, the new football coach at Chiefland High School, is already creating an impression on players and fans with his attitude and training style.
"He's a no-nonsense kind of person, "CHS Quarterback Club President Abe Blitch, told the Chiefland Rotary Club at its April 21 meeting. "You want tough-in-your-gut football, well it's here in Chiefland."
Blitch said the Quarterback Club is behind the new coach and commended Rob Alexander of Perkins State Bank and Financial Group, for helping to bring O'Neal back to Chiefland. O'Neal coached at CHS from 1993 and 1997.
The school won the 2A championship in 1997. He left to coach at St. Lucie West Centennial before returning to CHS last
He said O'Neal has "just a drive to keep moving forward." The new coach has football players dragging tires, rolling tires and running up and down bleachers. He is also scouting new recruits in unlikely places, like the city's Delma Locke Skate Park.
"We trust the coach we have in place," Blitch said. "His goals are our goals."
While there will not be a spring scrimmage with an out of town team, Blitch said there will be a Blue-and-Gold game on Saturday, May 29, at 9 a.m.
The varsity game will be followed by a junior varsity game and a cookout for the team.
"We are blessed not to have a spring game because we don't want them to know what's coming at them," Blitch said.
As for predictions on the next football season, Blitch said he expects the team to go after winning the Levy Cup. The Cup, sponsored in part by the Rotary, goes to the winner of the annual Chiefland-Williston high school game.
Williston has won the Cup for the past two years, but it's game was later forfeited as a result of an ineligible player, CHS has not asked WHS to give up the trophy, Blitch said. "We don't want no handouts. We want to win it," he said.
Blitch thanked the Rotary Club for the help it has provided in furnishing the athletes' weight room and he said it has been a blessing that it could be utilized by the community.
But he also said that soon community members will be asked to pay a fee, likely $20 a month, to help support the weight room's operation.