Bill Gierke joins Colonial football staff; Ray Evans steps down as Dr. Phillips baseball coach

Orlando Sentinel
Orlando Sentinel
Bill Gierke has joined Colonial High School's football program as a defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the 2021 season. Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel

One of Florida’s all-time winningest high school football coaches is returning to a Metro Conference sideline this fall for the first time in more than a decade.

Former Edgewater, Dr. Phillips and Evans High head coach Bill Gierke has signed on with Colonial High as its new defensive coordinator and assistant head coach for the 2021 season.

“When you get a call from Coach Gierke, you answer it immediately,” Colonial head coach Donny Hodges said. “Having a guy like that on staff is unbelievable. It’s been great getting to know each other.”

Gierke, 67, resigned from his position as Orangewood Christian head coach in December. He led the Rams to a 52-51 record the past 10 seasons, which included winning seasons in each of his final four years with the Rams.

Gierke, who was a finalist for Wekiva’s head coaching vacancy in January, became just the fifth Florida high school football coach to record 300 career wins last season. He owns a 309-126-1 record in 38 years, which includes state runner-up finishes at Edgewater in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

A 5-4 record under Hodges in 2018 is Colonial’s only above-.500 finish in the past 19 years. The Grenadiers did defeat Poinciana 20-0 during its spring game last month.

Rising junior David Elders rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one TD in that win. Marquise Wilson and Semaj Scott combined for 135 yards rushing on 15 carries.

Liberty High in Kissimmee is looking for a new head football coach after Brandon Pennington resigned following spring workouts to become defensive coordinator at St. Cloud. Pennington went 13-16 in three seasons with the Chargers.

The Bulldogs also added former St. Cloud assistant and Colonial head coach Mike Short as offensive coordinator.

Short coached Colonial from 2013 to 2015 after spending the 2012 season as an assistant at West Orange. He was promoted head coach at St. Cloud in 2011 after serving as an assistant at the school from 2008 to 2010.

Liberty will become the 19th Orlando area football program and the fourth in Osceola County to enter the fall season with a new head coach.

Baseball changes: Dr. Phillips is in search of a new baseball head coach after 500-game winner Ray Evans recently resigned following three years with the program.

“After 33 years of being a head coach I felt it was time to step back,” Evans said in a text message. “I’ll probably be an [assistant] and help someone else out.”

Evans, who won his 500th game in 2018 as a three-time state champion coach at Flanagan High in Pembroke Pines, went 42-21 at DP from 2019 to 2021. He previously coached at Miami Beach and Dr. Krop and steps away with a 559-251-2 career record.

Applications will be accepted at Dr. Phillips through the end of the week and interviews are expected to begin later this month, according to a listing on the FHSAA classified page.

Jay Welsh quickly landed on his feet after being released as West Orange baseball coach for unspecified “sportsmanship-related issues” on May 12.

Foundation Academy introduced Welsh as its new head coach to players and parents last week. Welsh, who compiled a 26-10 record in two seasons at West Orange, takes over for Chase Newman. The Lions went 17-14-1 under Newman the past two years.

“It’s going to be a challenge but I’m looking forward to the opportunity,” Welsh said via text message.

Chris Hopkins is the new baseball coach at DeLand, where he was a standout pitcher as a high school senior, after coaching New Smyrna Beach to a 25-13 record in 2020 and 2021.

He takes over a Bulldogs program that finished 3-19 this spring.

Hopkins, 24, played collegiately at Florida Gulf Coast University, Santa Fe Community College and Bethune-Cookman.

A DeLand native, Hopkins won a state championship as a sophomore with Port Orange Spruce Creek in 2012 then helped the Bulldogs reach the state final four in his only season with the program in 2014 under then-coach Andy Lyon.

Lyon completed his first season as head coach at Oviedo this spring with an 18-10 record.

This article originally appeared on . Email J.C. Carnahan at .

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