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Leesburg names Mark Oates as new football coach
Leesburg names Mark Oates as new football coach

By Frank Jolley
Daily Commercial
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
Updated: Wednesday, December 14, 2016, 7:18 p.m.

LEESBURG - Mark Oates is returning to his second home.

The former girls basketball coach with the Yellow Jackets realized a longtime dream on Wednesday
when he was announced as Leesburg High School's new football coach.

"I've wanted to be a head coach in football for the last 27 years that I've been coaching," said Oates.
"This is a dream come true. For me, getting the chance to come back and coach football at Leesburg
is a marriage made in heaven.

"(Wednesday) is my birthday and this is the best present I could've gotten."

Oates is the girls basketball coach at Tavares, where he is also a teacher. He was slated to be the
Bulldogs softball coach.

Oates said he intends to finish the basketball season with the Bulldogs, but has relinquished his
position with the softball team. He will continue teaching at Tavares until a position opens up at
Leesburg.

This will be Oates' second stint at Leesburg. He had a been a teacher and coach there from 2002 until
leaving after the 2012-13 school year to return to his native North Carolina.

In his first stint at Leesburg, Oates led the Yellow Jackets girls basketball team to three Final Fours -
2001, 2007 and 2008. He was an assistant football coach for eight years and coached girls track and
softball.

"This is where I've always wanted to be," said Oates. "Leesburg (High School) is home."

Oates is replacing Doug Allison, who led the Yellow Jackets to a 6-14 record in two seasons. Allison
was dismissed in November following a 2-8 season - a year that began with a tough battle against
South Sumter and began to crumble when quarterback Wyatt Rector was lost for the season with a
torn ACL and partially torn meniscus in his right knee on Sept. 9.

Leesburg Athletic Director Gerald Shafer said he received resumes from 87 candidates to replace
Allison. When the school's hiring committee reviewed Oates' resume, he quickly became the
frontrunner for the job.

"Mark stood out from everyone else," Shafer said. "I first met him when we were both at Oak Park
(Middle School in Leesburg) in 2015 and realized we shared the same philosophies. Mark has
enjoyed a great deal of success as a coach in terms of wins and losses, but he expects his players to
be complete student athletes and do their work in the classroom. There was no way we could pass
him up.

"He's a man of high character and desire and was clearly the best choice to lead our football program."

Oates said he plans to create a program based on speed and physicality on both sides of the ball. He
expects his players to conduct themselves "like champions" on and off the field, and play with
enthusiasm and pride.

He plans to use multiple sets on offense, with the ability to run the ball as well as confuse and
confound opposing defenses with an "intricate" passing attack. Rector, who passed and ran for more
than 1,000 yards in 2015, is expected to be back on the field by spring practice.

"No team will ever outwork us," Oates said. "That's the same philosophy I've used with my basketball
teams. It's something I learned when I started my coaching career at East Bladen High School
(Elizabethtown, N.C.) working for my mentor, Lenon Fisher. When you always work hard, good things -
like winning - happen.

"And we're going to win at Leesburg High School."



This article was provided by Gerald Lacey
Gerald Lacey is the senior sports writer covering Leesburg High School Sports for the Carver Heights
Quarterback Club. You can reach him at:
geraldlacey@leesburgyellowjacketsfootball.com