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This profile was last updated on 6/15/13  and contains information from public web pages.

Rick Darlington

Wrong Rick Darlington?

Football Coach

Apopka High

Employment History


  • B.B.A. , Business Management
    Stetson University
  • B.B.A. , Business Management form Stetson University
  • B.B.A. , Business Management
200 Total References
Web References
They include Apopka football coach ..., 15 June 2013 [cached]
They include Apopka football coach Rick Darlington, who saw his son Zack lead the Blue Darters to a state championship in December at the Florida Citrus Bowl, and West Orange's Bobby Brewer, who has coached two daughters in softball and one son in baseball during his high-school coaching career.
It's awesome to get one, much ..., 4 Nov 2008 [cached]
It's awesome to get one, much less two in the game," said Apopka head coach Rick Darlington. "They're good guys and good friends. It's nice for them."
"They're really special young men," Darlington said about Gallon and Mars.
Teach those running backs how to hit the hole," Darlington said jokingly to his senior star as he handed him a whistle. High School Sports, 25 Feb 2003 [cached]
Rick Darlington was introduced as the new football coach at Valdosta, Ga., High Monday night, and he got an early taste of the passion for high school football in a city nicknamed "Winnersville."
The announcement was held in a 1,200-seat city auditorium to accommodate fans who wanted to meet the new coach, who had a 37-11 record at Apopka, including a Class 6A state title in 2001.
Valdosta, located 15 miles north of the Florida-Georgia border off I-75, is the winningest high school program in the nation with an 802-165-34 record (.818) in 90 years of football.That includes 23 Georgia state championships and six unofficial national titles.
"Lakeland High had tradition, and I grew up in that," Darlington said of his days as a high school player."I like the challenge of living up to tradition."
But no school in Florida has tradition like Valdosta.The Wildcats sell out big games in an 11,000-seat stadium, have a 1,300-member booster club and have their own weekly half-hour TV highlights show.
With all the frills comes pressure.
Darlington, 37, will double his salary, with reports from Valdosta indicating he will receive a new truck and an annual salary between $80,000 and $90,000.O'Brien's contract was worth $83,911.50 annually.
And after teaching six English classes at Apopka, Darlington now will focus almost solely on football as head coach and athletic director.With an assistant athletic director on staff, Darlington's primary focus will be overseeing a football program that reaches down to the sixth-grade level.
King said Apopka's search for a new coach is in a holding pattern until assistants to Darlington decide whether or not they will join him in Valdosta.
The Blue Darters are 184-88 over the past 25 seasons, though they slipped to 2-8 in 1998 before Darlington was hired away from Eustis, where he had gone 21-12 in his first stint as a head coach (1996-98).
Darlington laid down his law and rebuilt the Apopka program around young players who bought into his no-nonsense approach.The Blue Darters started six sophomores on a 6-4 team in 1999, then won a district title in 2000 and followed that with a 6A championship in 2001 -- the first outright title in history for an Orange County public school football team.After graduating 28 seniors from the state title team, Apopka finished 8-3 last fall.
"I'll miss Rick personally and professionally," Apopka Principal John Edwards said.
LINCOLN - Rick Darlington has ..., 24 Dec 2013 [cached]
LINCOLN - Rick Darlington has conducted enough interviews in the last four months to politely make a point - but purposefully make it clear.
I'm not going to play again, am I? Zack asked Rick with tears in his eyes. Tears - of fear, of relief, of resolve - were not in short supply that weekend.
You aren't going to play your senior season, Rick told him.
Rick returned in 2006 to be head coach for a second stint in Apopka, just northwest of Orlando. The Darlingtons settled in as Apopka became a powerhouse in Florida's largest class, 8A, annually producing multiple FBS recruits. Zack ascended to starting quarterback, while Rick designed and called plays for the Blue Darters' offense, inspired in part by the philosophy of former Husker coach Tom Osborne, who ran power football out of a dizzying number of sets.
Rick took Zack in his gray Chevy Silverado to the hospital.
Rick consulted with several doctors, including Dr. Semyon Slobounov, a professor and scientist at Penn State whose focus, according to PSU's website, is "sports-related traumatic brain injuries.
"At first, I was mad at him for staying in bounds," Rick said.
Said Rick: "I wasn't surprised, because that's the kind of man Coach Pelini is."
Rick noticed that his son's personality, his character, didn't change after his high school career ended. Same enthusiasm. Same competitive juices.
"He's the same whether he's on top of the world or whether he's not playing football," Rick said. "He's been very consistent. That's a silver lining."
Meanwhile, Rick had to retool his offense. He put Cox, a 6-foot-1, 220-pound bruiser, in the single wing. Handoffs every which way. And it worked.
A Sentinel columnist wrote that Rick "could easily be the next Gus Malzahn" - the Auburn head coach who parlayed his own high school single-wing into one national title for the Tigers as offensive coordinator and an appearance in this season's BCS title game, which will be played in two weeks.
Rick's a coach. So while Rick knows his son will play football at NU, he knows something else, too, when it comes to sliding. -- Home, 24 June 2012 [cached]
Darlington ends his three-year tenure at Valdosta with a 26-14 record (a .650 winning percentage), a Region 1-AAAAA championship, and a state runner-up finish in 2003. His teams went 11-4 in 2003, 8-5 in 2004 and 7-5 in 2005.
Rick Darlington came to Valdosta amid much promise. He was a year removed from winning a state championship at Apopka (Fla.) High, and came with much praise from the search committee that unanimously recommended him, and the Board of Education that unanimously approved his hiring as the 13th head coach in Valdosta history.
Speaking of some of the same characteristics that the Wildcat program has been built on â€"talking of an emphasis on spiritual fitness, academic fitness, physical fitness and discipline â€" and with a reputation of having a bright offensive mind, he seemed to be the right man to lead the Valdosta Wildcats.
But while he had success, he also experienced some difficulties. Some of the things he did worked, and some didn’t. When things don’t work at Valdosta, the coach gets criticized by a very-opinionated fan base, fairly or unfairly, and Darlington took his share of criticism. And in the end, it was just time for both parties to move on.
Though not as perfect as some would have liked him to be, Darlington essentially did the things he said he was going to do. He talked of emphasizing spirituality, and held optional weekly Bible studies in his home for players. He talked about emphasizing academics, and required players to have weekly progress reports, and get tutoring if they were having academic trouble. He talked about physical fitness, and the team had 28 Super Cats this year, and an impressive number of players cleaning at least 250 pounds. And he talked about discipline, and kids who wanted to play on Darlington’s teams behaved, or they didn’t play on the team for long.
He was a disciplinarian who demanded hard work out of his players. That style weeded out a lot of players. Those who routinely got in trouble were kicked off the team, and those who didn’t want to work hard either learned to work hard or they quit the team â€" and Valdosta’s players worked about as hard as any team in the state.
Those players that were willing to do all that it took to be Wildcats in his system, though, became fine young men. Darlington took great pride in trying to develop first-rate people who would become successes in life, and was very proud of the way most of his players acted on and off the field. What a Wildcat did on and off the field reflected on both their parents, and their team. Even in his final speeches to the players, after last Friday’s game and on Monday, he made sure to tell them how proud he was of them.
“We have loved and invested in these young men as men first, not as athletes,†Darlington said. “I am confident that as a result of being a part of our program, they will be better students, better fathers, better husbands, and that they will make a difference in the lives of others in the years to come.â€
Last Friday, following the season-ending loss to Camden, the team stopped to eat at Sonny’s in Kingsland. They had to wait an hour to eat, but were polite. After they were done eating, the manager at Sonny’s came to Darlington, and complimented him on what a fine group of boys his team was.
Earlier this season, a cheerleader from Lincoln emailed Darlington and told him she couldn’t believe how nice and polite his players were. Things like that meant so much to Darlington (and the other coaches), and made him so proud of the kids.
Darlington will now move on to a new coaching job in a new city. Despite rumors that have him going several different places, he says he has not even looked into another coaching job. He’s been too busy coaching the Wildcats, and giving this job his full attention.
Valdosta principal Brett Stanton said he wished Darlington the best of luck Monday, and Darlington says he has no hard feelings, and will try to keep up with the Wildcats’ progress in the future, because there will still be players that played for him on the team.
And Valdosta itself will now begin looking for its next coach. Like its last search three years ago, which brought Darlington to town, the Valdosta City Schools system will do another search for the next Wildcats coach. A search committee will be announced soon.
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