There will be more than one set of eyes looking out for the new leader of the Florence Buffaloes football team this month.
A screening committee made up of Florence Independent School District administrators, parents and members of the community will interview candidates and narrow down the group that the next Florence AD/head football coach will come from.
“We need someone who can come in and bring a real high energy level to our district,” Florence Independent School District superintendent Sam Atwood said. “Someone who’s going to be a positive role model for our kids and someone who’s going to emphasize the importance of our academic program and athletics being an overall part of the entire school program.”
After narrowing down its choice, the committee will recommend the choice to the Florence School Board for consideration.
Atwood said that as of Thursday, the district had received 26 applications for the position. The position was posted on Nov. 12 and is currently the only one on the FISD website.
The superintendent added that although the preference would be to name a new head coach and athletic director by Christmas, the search will go on until the ideal candidate is hired.
Paul Smith resigned as head coach and athletic director at Florence on Nov. 11 after the team finished 1-9, including an 0-7 record in District 13-2A, Div. I.
Smith, 51, was head coach at Florence for five years, where he went 13-37. His overall record as a head coach is 67-54-1, and Smith will finish out the academic season at Florence.
Smith’s most successful season at Florence was 2012, when the Buffaloes finished 4-6, including a 2-5 district mark.
Atwood stressed that Florence is a good community with great kids.
“I think this school district is a diamond in the rough and I think everybody is getting behind the kids and the school,” Atwood said. “I think it can be just a wonderful place to work. I think it can be a very successful place to work. We’ve got to iron some kinks out, but the obstacles we need to overcome are fixable and that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Buffaloes last made the playoffs in 2001 when they went 7-4. Florence has made only two playoff appearances in 55 years.