Daleville hires new football coach

By Casey Strickland sports@southeastsun.com

Daleville hires new football coach
After a search which included more than 100 applicants, the next Daleville High School football coach has been found.Rob Armstrong, who has coaching experience at the high school level and the college ranks, was approved at a special-called Daleville City Board of Education meeting March 1 to lead the DHS football program."I’m pretty excited," Armstrong said. "With having six or seven weeks roughly before spring ball, I want to get here, get to know all of the players, get in the halls, get in the lunchroom and maybe bring a couple more out there to add to this group coming back. I’ve seen film. I think there’s some good skills coming back. They lost a few guys…but there’s some guys we can plug in."Several things Daleville offered appealed to Armstrong when he applied for the job.One is its proximity to his hometown of Graceville so his mother can spend time with him, his wife Amber and their sons Kurt and Kase.Another factor is Daleville's recent success."You know the success they’ve had over the years," Armstrong said. "They had more success in the 90s, but the last two years have been very good years. Even though they lost a couple of key guys, I think the ingredients are there to still build on this and make a run in the playoffs."Daleville's newest hire is a veteran coach.Armstrong has been the football coach at Rutherford High School in Panama City, Florida, since May 2014.In 2015, he led the Rams to their first playoff appearance in 13 seasons, and his team earned the Bay County Academic Award with a 3.3 grade-point average.Prior to his tenure at Rutherford, Armstrong served as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator at Clark Atlanta University.In 2009, Armstrong took a Chipley team which had gone 0-10 in 2008 and turned the program around. The Tigers won 22 games in the next three years, including an 11-3 record and a state-runner up finish in 2011.The type of student-athlete Armstrong coached at Chipley is similar, he said, to the players the Warhawks will return."As far as the type of (student-athletes), I would compare it to when we were at Graceville in the 90s or even Chipley five or six years ago," he said. "It’s the same type of (student-athlete). They’re still hardworking, still like to show up, do what’s asked of them and a lot of times overachieve and get more out of their abilities. I think you have seen that in the last few years here. Hopefully we can keep that going."Armstrong was a part of back-to-back state championships in 2004 and 2005 as assistant head coach and offensive coordinator for Lowndes High School, including a 15-0 mark in 2004.He was selected as one of American Football Monthly’s top 10 assistant coaches in the country during his time at Lowndes. Armstrong has also served as football coach at Berrien High School, Mariana High School, Walton County High School and Freeport High School, where he was the 2000 Northwest Florida Daily News Coach of the Year.Prior to his stint at Freeport, Armstrong spent one season as offensive line coach at Mosley High School.He led Graceville High School to a 10-4 record in 1997, his first year as a coach. The Tigers were district, conference and region champions, while Armstrong was named the Panhandle Coach of the Year.The new Daleville coach has experienced success since 1992, when he first joined Graceville’s staff as its offensive line coach, and helped the Tigers to a 1993 state championship.He hopes to take advantage of Daleville's talent, have the Warhawks limit mistakes  and play physical football."We’re going to try to be a physical football team and run the football, even when they know you’ve got run it to be able to convert then, but also keep the other team from running it," Armstrong said. "You may not win them all, but you’re going to be in them all. That’s kind of our goal, to be sound, limit the big plays, cut out self-inflicted errors, wait for the other team to make a mistake and take advantage of it."Along with the plan on the field, Armstrong also has expectations for his players in the community and the classroom."If you’re taking care of business in the classroom, if you’re doing what that teacher asks, you’re not going to jump offside on third and a yard," he said. "You’re going to convert on fourth and 1 when you’ve got to. All of it is together. We’re going to be good students first, and we’re going to represent Daleville High School in the community the way these folks want it done. I think the wins and losses, if you’re doing all of the little things, that takes care of itself. That’s my expectation, to work harder than we’ve ever worked to be the kind of students and young men we expect in this place."Armstrong received his bachelors degree in physical education in 1992 from Troy State University, and his masters in education in 2005 from Troy.The new coach knows he may have to slowly implement his new offensive and defensive systems in spring practice."We’ve got to be smart on how much we throw at them in the 10 days over spring ball," Armstrong said. "We’d rather keep it simple and just be good at what we do than trying to throw it all at them right away and slow them down. A faster player is a confident player. Let’s get good at what we do. Let’s get confidence in it, and we can play faster."
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