By Charles Prince

The North Jefferson News

In what came as a major surprise to many people, the Gardendale head football coaching opening, created when former coach Keith Luker accepted the Oak Grove head coaching position on Jan. 24, is garnering a tremendous amount of interest according to officials at the Jefferson County School Board.

As of Friday morning, the board had received 25 applications for the position. The board will continue to accept applications until the job posting closes on Feb. 7.

Many people speculated that the opening wouldn’t draw as much interest as a 6A coaching position usually would due to to Gardendale being reclassified into 6A beginning next season.

The Rockets will be the second smallest 6A school in the state, but will be competing in what many view as the toughest high school football region, not only in the state, but also in the entire Southeast.

Starting with the 2008-09 school year, Gardendale will compete in 6A, Region 6 along with traditionally strong programs such as multi-time state champions Homewood and Hoover among others.

During the 2007 season, all four North semi-finalists in the 6A football playoffs were members of Region 6—Hoover, Spain Park, Vestavia Hills and Mountain Brook. For the past six seasons, beginning with the 2002 season, both of the 6A North finalists have come from Region 6.

According to officials at the Jefferson County School Board the job will remain posted until next Thursday and then interviews will likely begin soon thereafter at the board’s offices.

So far the applications have come from several states in South, not just from coaches currently working in Alabama.

Some supporters of the Rocket program wanted to see Mountain Brook assistant coach Martin Rozell take the job, but on Friday he ended any such speculation.

“I’ve decided not to apply for the job,” Rozell said. “It will be a really good situation for someone, but it’s not the right job for me at this time. So I’m not going to pursue it. If they were still in 5A, I probably would.”

At press time it could not be determined if Rozell has applied for the opening. The school board stated they would not release any names of the applicants until after the job closes.

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