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Joel Everett is the new Central High School football coach.

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INDEPENDENCE — The Central High School football team has hired a new head coach, but he’s no stranger to the Panthers.

Joel Everett has been an assistant football coach for the Panthers football team for 10 years, and following former head coach Jeff Centoni’s resignation at the end of the season last year, he decided it was time to be considered for a bigger role.

“Well, Jeff Centoni stepped down — he just took over a new position at the school, so he was trying to juggle the new job and football coach, and it was a lot at once,” Everett said. “So he decided to step down after the season to focus on that, and I decided it was time to put my name in the hat.”

Everett was officially hired on March 5. 

“Joel is a Panther; he knows the ins and outs of this program, and has consistently excelled at building positive relationships with kids,” said Ryan O’Malley, athletic director at CHS. “It’s evident that Central football is his passion and has been for years.”

Everett said he is ready for this next step.

“I’m ready to take that next challenge to be that head guy to give the answers that people have questions for,” Everett said. “We’ve been pretty fortunate the last 15, 16 years to have a steady head coach in coach (Shane) Hedrick and that Panther way that he instilled, so I am really fortunate to step in with a lot of the groundwork already laid. Even though I’ll be the third head coach in three years, I think this will bring a little bit of stability to that chaos that’s been there the last few years.”

Everett says he hopes to find a way to implement his own style, and build on what Hedrick and Centoni set forth.

“The groundwork has already been laid at Central, so my philosophy is just going to continue the Panther way, that commitment to excellence,” Everett said, “and to make sure to instill that discipline in students when it comes to being good citizens, in the classroom, out of it, just taking care of business all around, whether it’s in school or at home or on the field.”

His vision for the team extends beyond how many victories are won on the field. I mean everybody wants to win,” he said, chuckling, “but the vision is — we were so close on a lot of stuff last year — so just to fix the small things, try to re-instill that confidence that the kids need to have and that we’ve had in the past.”

But he’s only part of the equation, he said.

“It’s not just me — I have some great assistant coaches who have been there for a lot of years,” Everett said.

In the meantime, Everett’s looking forward to being able to spend some time with his team.

“I hope we get to do that soon,” he said.

As for his position as head coach of the boys golf team, Everett said he doesn’t think much will change there.

“There are two of us doing golf right now, because we do our boys and girls teams together,” he said. “So nothing should change there.”

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