By Kyle LoJacono
Mark Kantor was a constant on the Gaither football sidelines for nine seasons, and the veteran coach will remain in northern Hillsborough County this fall.
Kantor accepted an assistant position with Wharton. He is unsure what unit he will be leading, but is happy to remain a teacher of the game.
“Coaching is a passion I’ve had for 19 years,” Kantor said. “I’m very happy I’ll be teaching kids the game. You want to continue as a head coach, but I’ll still be doing what I love.”
Wildcats coach David Mitchell, who has led Wharton for six seasons, said he and Kantor have been friends for many years and believes in his ability as a coach.
“He was one of the first to talk to me about joining his staff,” Kantor said. “We’ve had a special bond during the last bunch of seasons. I entertained other options, but given our relationship and the fact that Wharton is 10 minutes from my house make it the right place.”
Kantor applied for several head coaching openings this offseason, including at Land O’ Lakes, Mitchell and East Bay. He is not sure how long he will be with Wharton, but said he has committed to the Wildcats through the fall season.
He does not know if he will get a teaching job at Wharton or will remain at Gaither. Cowboys principal Marie Whelan told Kantor he can keep his social studies job there if he wants it.
Kantor was the longest tenured football coach in Gaither’s 26-year history, but stepped down from the post in December after learning administration wanted to go in a different direction. He guided the Cowboys to three straight regional tournament appearances from 2006-2008, but his teams went 1-9 in 2009 and 3-7 in 2010.
Kantor did have the most wins of any coach in Cowboys football history, compiling a 42-55 record. He also helped 70 Gaither athletes sign letters of intent to play football in college.
Wharton went 3-7 last year, including a 10-0 victory at Gaither. The Wildcats will be in Class 8A-District 6 this season with Alonso, Bloomingdale and Plant, which was the 5A state runner up in 2010.