Mike Gottman (right) with Durant lineman Wyatt Lawson, who won the James ‘Jimbo’ Kynes Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the most outstanding lineman in Hillsborough County.

Former Durant High School Head Football Coach Mike Gottman was named the head coach at East Bay High School in January.

Gottman returned to his former school, where he was the defensive coordinator from 1995-2002. He took over as the head man at Durant in 2003, where he went 107-83 and won four district titles. In his first season, the Cougars went to the state final four, and in 2012, they had a perfect 10-0 regular season.

Gottman also led the effort in raising funds for six years for the first-class, 6,000-square-foot field house with a weight room and locker room at Durant. He takes the reins at East Bay from 10-year Head Coach Frank LaRosa, who left to pursue a career at BSN Sports.

Gottman, an Apollo Beach native, wanted to be closer to home. The 56-year-old traded a 45-minute commute to Plant City during the week for a quick 5-minute drive to his new school. He has taken over his old job as head of the physical education department at East Bay as well.

“When this job opened up, I was just drawn to it because I had invested so much in the program before I left to go to Durant,” said Gottman. “I thought it was the right fit, and I’m excited about the challenge of building a new program here.”

Camden High School in New York gave Gottman his first opportunity as a football coach in 1986. He later went to Division II Emporia State University from 1988-1995. Former East Bay Head Coach Brian Thornton offered Gottman an assistant coaching job in 1995 when the Emporia State coaching staff was let go after a 5-5 season.

Gottman will miss the kids, administration, great community support and the friendships and camaraderie that he and his coaching staff at Durant had formed. He takes pride in building kids with character and integrity and getting them ready for the next phase in life to be productive citizens in society. He told his players that the move had nothing to do with them, it was just a matter of him wanting to get closer to home.

The East Bay head coach is looking forward to building a consistent winner at the school. He wants to bring the same core values to the program that he had at Durant for 18 years, including the practice plan, efficiency of the program, player expectations, player discipline on and off the field, a hard-working atmosphere and a priority on academics.

“We want to compete at the highest level,” said Gottman. “We strive to be the best that we can be. We have a lot of work to do and we’re grinding and trying to get a little better every day.”

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Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.