When a high school athletic director says he's looking for a fresh face with fresh ideas to be the head of his football program, it typically doesn't conjure images of 57-year-olds with 35 seasons of experience.
That, however, is exactly what Everett found when it hired well-traveled Mark Kirk from a pool of 12 applicants to take the reins of the Warriors from resigning Tom Waltman several months ago.
"We really didn't look closely at wins and losses. We just looked at what we needed," said Everett AD Brian Koontz, a former coach himself who will be on the sideline as part of Kirk's staff when the Warriors open the season on Friday at Tussey Mountain. "He fit the bill."
Kirk's 64-158-4 record at the helm of nine teams in five different states over 22 years might not catch the fancy of Warrior fans, but Kirk typically has taken over teams that were reclamation projects. One year at Neah-Kah-Nie in Oregon produced the school's first winning record in 13 years. In 2008, he took over a Western Hartnett, N.C. team that had lost 24 straight and made the playoffs. Last year under his watch, Connersville, Ind. posted its best record in 20 years.
Kirk's 1999 Halifax team went 10-2, losing to Steelton-Highspire in the District 3 Class A title game.
Everett isn't nearly the rebuilding job of these: Kirk has seven starters back each way and 17 returning lettermen from a team that, while 1-9 last year, has shown it can compete through the years. The Warriors are one of the largest schools in the Inter-County Conference and have the best size in that loop this season.
"I think we are going to do really well," Kirk said. "Our first scrimmage I thought went fairly well. We've got a long way to go, though."
Kirk's installing a ball-control offense but only has 32 players out for the team. However, he feels strength and conditioning is the life blood of any team, so that has been right in his wheelhouse.
"During camp, we've been going down and lifting at 7 in the morning doing lifting and agilities to get in shape. Then, after practice, we have conditioning," Warrior senior Kyle Droz said. "He made a good first impression."
A social studies teacher, too, Kirk hasn't stayed anywhere for longer than five years. The former Cedar Cliff player who is married to a woman from Punxsutawney, though, said this is his final destination.
"This is the last stop," Kirk said. "This is definitely the last stop."