AURORA | A national search has brought Gateway a new head football coach, all the way from the Sunshine State.
Just over a month after former coach Justin Hoffman resigned to take the job at Smoky Hill, the school hired Ashour Peera — an assistant coach from Miami Northwestern High School — to head its program.
Gateway principal Bill Hedges put a lot of time into the selection process, which recently came to an end with the hiring of Peera, who worked with the offensive line for a Miami Northwestern program that was 9-3 last season. The Bulls — who play in “the toughest conference in America” in Peera’s estimation — lost in the second round of Florida’s Class 6A state playoffs to the eventual state champions.
“This is a great situation for myself and my family; we didn’t look at film or wins and losses, we didn’t want that to factor in,” said Peera, who drove three days from Florida to reach Aurora. “We were looking for a good, community-based school that had the potential to grow and I feel like we have that at Gateway.”
Peera — who is married and has a 4-year-old son — heard about the school’s coaching vacancy online, asked a friend who coaches at the University of Northern Colorado about the area and applied for the job. He immediately developed a good relationship with Hedges, who oversaw the selection process.
He visited the school on Tuesday and conducted his first official meeting, which had 120 people in attendance. Peera said he got a great vibe from returning players and members of the booster club.
“I think there is a buzz and a lot of excitement at Gateway,” he added. “(Hoffman) has done a tremendous job, so we’re going to continue on some traditions that were started and begin some others.”
Peera fills the position left by Hoffman, who spent 16 years on the coaching staff at Gateway, including the last six as head coach. Hoffman had a 28-32 overall record as head coach and helped the Olys reach the Class 5A playoffs five times, including in 2012 when they lost to Regis Jesuit in the first round.
Peera comes from a powerhouse Miami Northwestern program that has produced such players as University of Miami quarterback Jacori Harris, University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and others. The Bulls had 17 players sign national athletic letters of intent on the most recent signing day.
Gateway had one in Colorado State-bound lineman Zack Golditch, but Peera is hoping to raise the numbers annually by developing players who have the skills to move on and play in college. He’ll try to accomplish that in part by running a pro-style offense, which will be a major departure from the run-heavy veer system employed by Hoffman and his predecessor, Jeff Sweet. The Olys will a few face at quarterback next season, as two-year starter Tate Johnson graduates this year.
Gateway’s old and new coaches will get familiar in week one, as the Olys play host to the Buffaloes at Aurora Public Schools Stadium to kick off the 2013 season.
All head football coaching vacancies have been filled in Aurora, as Jaron Cohen got the Hinkley job and Hoffman took over for John Thompson, who stepped down after seven seasons at Smoky Hill.
Reach Sports Editor Courtney Oakes at [email protected] or 303-750-7555