In the seven-member Cardinal District, four schools have changed head boys basketball coaches within the past year. And none of those schools has been Gar-Field, Potomac or Woodbridge, the teams annually at the top of the standings.
Dan Kearney, a nine-year Potomac assistant hired at Hylton this week, hopes to infiltrate that trio. Cardinal contention is not out of the question.
"My expectations are very high, and from what I hear from a lot of other coaches, they're not only my expectations but those from around the league," said Kearney, 33, who helped coach Potomac teams that reached the Virginia AAA state championship three of the past five years. "My expectation is that they're ready to compete for a district title."
Hylton lost just one senior--second-team all-district pick Ryan Sloper--off an 8-13 team and returns established players Kenny Irby, Napoleon Wright and D.J. Walton as well as Ahmad Brooks and Delondre Simpson, two Bulldogs who each posted double-figure scoring games late in the season.
"I thought they were very well-balanced and weren't weak in any one area," said Kearney, hired in time to join the Bulldogs at camp at Virginia Commonwealth University later this month.
Apparently, many coaches shared Kearney's opinion. Hylton Athletics Director Jim Qualls, who also hired Kearney at Potomac, said he interviewed 16 applicants for the position vacated by five-year Hylton coach Ed Holstrom, who took a job with the Virginia Department of Education.
Hylton's hiring of Kearney was not the only local basketball coaching move this week. Brentsville coaches Mark Kozlowski (boys) and Annette Kozlowski (girls) resigned from their jobs to accept positions in North Carolina.
That leaves the Tigers without a coach for a girls basketball season that begins Aug. 9.
"We might have to place an interim person in until the interview process is complete," Brentsville Principal Sara Fitts said.
Mark Kozlowski coached the boys to the Bull Run District title in his two seasons as head coach. He filled in as interim girls basketball coach for his wife last fall after she gave birth. Annette Kozlowski coached three years at Brentsville.
Gar-Field Names Coach
Gar-Field this week appointed former softball assistant Mike McDonald as head coach to replace Jennifer Jones, who resigned last month after 19 seasons to become an assistant coach at Mary Washington College.
Jones, whose teams this decade won three Northwestern Region titles and one state title, will remain at the school as assistant activities director and physical education teacher.
McDonald served as an assistant coach to Jones the past few seasons until this spring, when he assisted the lacrosse team.
Woodbridge recently hired Tiann Keesling as head volleyball coach. She replaces Mike Petock, whose teams made five region tournament appearances in seven years.