The retirement announced last week of Franklin County High School football coach and athletic director Dirk Strunk has set in motion a search to find a suitable candidate to revive the Seahawks’ sagging football fortunes ever since the school opened in 2007.
In a Dec. 1 email, Strunk informed the school community that he planned to retire at the end of the year, from coaching as well as teaching after a 28-year career.
“I’ve kept my health a secret this year, but it has not been good,” he wrote. “Over the Veteran’s Day weekend and Thanksgiving holiday, I had time to reflect and made the decision to retire at the end of this semester. When you can’t give the job 100 percent then it is time to get out.”
Strunk said his wife Kathy will continue to teach at the school.
“We have no plans on moving, we feel that Franklin County is home,” he wrote. “The nice part is on Friday nights I will be able to watch our Seahawks play and not be as stressed.
“I have been blessed to coach and teach for the past 28 years, but now I am on to a new adventure,” Strunk wrote, noting that he has “several possible opportunities in the mix.
“I’m not sure what the future holds but I know that the past 28 years have been a blessing. I wish all of you the best and I thank you for your support over the past three years,” he wrote. “I am so thankful for the time that I have been blessed to work here.”
A Niceville native, Strunk coached around the Southeast in Alabama and Kentucky before coming to Franklin County prior to the 2020 season.
Like many of his predecessors, Strunk had the challenge of tallying wins, totaling a 2-23 record in three seasons.
“Dirk is a fine man, I appreciate everything he’s done,” said Superintendent Steve Lanier.
He said Strunk was dealt a setback on the eve of this past season, when four of his assistant coaches – Chuck Syverson, Bill McCullough, Jake Montalbano and Kelsey Jones – all left just before the start of the season in August.
“Dirk really didn’t have time to hire anybody,” he said. “He had his back up against the wall.”
Lanier said interest in the job has been strong over the past week, and that he hopes to find an outside candidate who can fill both the AD and the coaching positions, each of which carries a $4,614 additional annual supplemental contract along with the teaching salary. In the event the hiring of a coach extends into next year, the superintendent said the district will likely put in place an interim AD to fill the slot.
“We’ll have lots to choose from,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of phone calls from people. We want to hire somebody who’s going to blend into the community and somebody who understands Franklin County.
“We have the talent here; we have some great kids coming up. Whoever it is is going to flip it,” Lanier said. “It’s a year round commitment, you got to train year round, with a lot of summer workouts. We need two-sport athletes to play.”
Since the school consolidated before the 2007 season, the football program has seen just 30 wins in 15 years, as well as nine head football coaches over that span.