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Archive for Tuesday, April 27, 1999

LHS TO BEGIN SEARCH

April 27, 1999

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Don't tell Lawrence High athletics director Ron Commons the Lions head football coaching job has lost its luster.

When Dick Purdy became the LHS coach in 1990, the Lions were coming off a state championship season and applicants were abundant.

Despite Lawrence High's 5-5 record in 1998 following a 4-5 season in '97, Commons believes several coaches will inquire about the job that opened Monday when Purdy announced his retirement.

"I hope we would have a lot of interest, not only in the state but probably throughout the United States," Commons said. "I believe there will be people from outside the area who will express an interest in the position. Sometimes word of mouth does a lot more good than advertising."

Commons said the district will advertise the position and form a select committee. He set no timetable on naming a new coach.

"We're going to explore all our options and see what's all out there," Commons said.

Dirk Wedd, an assistant for nine seasons under Purdy, is believed to be the front-runner for the job. Wedd, an all-stater at LHS in 1969 and current LHS baseball coach, was a finalist for the Free State post in 1997.

"I've seriously thought about it," Wedd said of his interest in the Lion football job. "But it's coach's day, and we're trying to support coach and his decision. Right now I'm supporting coach and Norma (Purdy's wife) anyway I can."

Commons, the Lions' AD since 1994 and former LHS assistant under Bill Freeman and Purdy, hinted he had interest in returning to football. Commons was a finalist in 1990 before LHS selected Purdy and assisted Purdy for four seasons.

Jerry Skakal is the lone LHS assistant coach with head football coaching varsity experience. He said on Monday that he hadn't given applying for the job much thought.

During his retirement announcement, Purdy wasn't ready to endorse a successor.

"I may subtly suggest someone," he said.

-- Steve Rottinghaus' phone message number is 832-7152. His e-mail address is srottinghaus@ljworld.com

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