Pope John Paul football coach Chris Kokell to take over at Forest Hill
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
by Joseph Kairlalla
Chris Kokell, the head football coach at Pope John Paul II the past two seasons, confirmed on Tuesday that he was taking the same position at Forest Hill High School.
Kokell, 31, said he wants to help turn around the FCAT scores at Forest Hill as much as he wants to turn around the fortunes of a football program that has struggled for the better part of two decades. Last season Forest Hill beat Spanish River to snap a 38-game losing streak — the state's longest active high school losing streak at the time.
Kokell began coaching at Pope John in 2008 and struggled his first year, going 1-9. The team improved to 5-5 last year.
Prior to his time at Pope John Paul, Kokell, a native New Yorker, served as an assistant coach at Boca Raton.
"Being a teacher has always come first to me and I certainly want to help this school get to where they need to be in the FCAT," said Kokell, who will begin teaching math in August. "But at the same time, there's 2,000 kids (at Forest Hill) so I know there are some talented football players here."
Kokell replaces Lamar Powell, who was arrested in December because of an outstanding warrant from Leon County that dated back to 1988. Forest Hill Principal Mayra Stafford said the arrest and circumstances surrounding it played no part in Powell's dismissal.
"This decision was all about our program going in a new direction, a winning direction," Stafford said. "(Kokell's) been in the position of rebuilding programs before and we have a lot of confidence in him."
Kokell added that while he loved every minute of his time at Pope John Paul, he wouldn't have taken the Forest Hill job if he didn't think success was possible.
"We're looking forward to winning," he said.