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New football coach boasts experience, championships

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By Sean Arnold

Chiefland’s new head football coach is familiar with the Chieland area and competing for state championships.

John Palmer, who was recently named the successor to Adam Gore, has been a head coach for 21 years and has extensive playoff experience and a pair of state championships. He’s been a head coach at Bronson, Eustis, Hernando and Port St. Joe, where he won state championships in 2005 and 2014 on two different stints.

He led Bronson to a playoff berth in 1998 and was an assistant at Williston. Hernando (Brooksville) is his alma mater.

He took off 2018 from coaching but he felt it calling him back.

“I took last year off, and I needed to, I was a little frazzled health-wise and stuff,” Palmer said. “But I missed it. We had got a very good coach at Port St. Joe. They were 11-1 last year.”

Palmer has in-laws from the Chiefland and Bronson area, and he was already in touch with Gore.

“When Adam stepped down, we had a couple phone calls from family here,” Palmer siad. “Adam and I have been coaching friends, so it was very fortuitous for us. I didn’t know he was planning on going into administration, it just kind worked out.”

Gore stepped down in January to pursue more avenues in education and have more time for his friendly. He took over a team that finished 3-6 in 2016 and went 5-5 his first season before last year’s magical 10-2 run, which saw the Indians in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. They advanced to the regional championship, where they lost to eventual back-to-back state champion Madison County.

“I told Adam it’s hard to do what he did, when he transformed the mindset of a whole group like they’ve done,” Palmer said. “I’m impressed with what he did the last couple years.”

Palmer is excited about the team he’s inheriting, with its talented upcoming senior class. He says he’s more of an offensive coach, and runs a spread Wing T that’s adaptive to players’ skills.

“I think it’s helped over the years where I don’t have to keep reinventing offenses,” Palmer said. “It’s allowed me to take this one segment and be spread, or be power oriented or be option oriented.

Palmer is comfortable in a small school setting. Port St. Joe was already a smaller school than Chiefland before the city was devastated by Hurricane Michael. Now it’s down to under 300 students, Palmer said.

He was due to begin teaching P.E. at CMHS in March.

“I’ve been really appreciative to (CMHS Principal) Matt (McLelland) and the school.

“The thing I love the most is the relationships with the kids and with the coaches,” Palmer added. “I love watching the team go from point A to point Be out there, through the whole season.”