Ponte Vedra fills head football vacancy with 3-time state champ coach

Steve Price spent the last 9 seasons at Tallahassee North Florida Christian

Ponte Vedra has hired Steve Price as its new football coach.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Ponte Vedra went out of the area to fill its football head coaching position and came back with a three-time state champion in Steve Price.

The Sharks announced the hire of Price this week, bringing him over from perennial state contender Tallahassee North Florida Christian. Price spent nine seasons at NFC, the final five of those as the Eagles’ head coach. He led them to the Class 2A state crown in 2018 and has a career mark of 140-92 in stops at four schools in Florida and Georgia.

“I am really excited about just getting over there and getting to know the kids,” he said. “And the relationships, honestly, that’s what it is about for me ... the opportunity to work with kids of 16, 17 and 18 years old, and their families. It’s just such a pivotal time in their lives. And just to see them grow and develop and be successful. That’s what motivates me when I wake up in the morning. Just to watch them develop into young man and into football players.”

Price replaces Brad Kessel, who served in an interim role after the midseason resignation of Jeff DiSandro. DiSandro stepped down for personal reasons after a season and a half with the Sharks.

Price was at Augusta Christian from 1994-2001 and at Dublin Trinity Christian from 2003-08, both in Georgia. He went 99-68 in the Peach State, according to the Georgia High School Football Historians Association and won a pair of state championships (2004, ’06). Price went to Taylor County the following year and served as an assistant coach until he was named the head coach in 2011.

Price was 7-4 in his lone season there before he left for perennial power NFC. He served as an assistant his first four seasons there and spent the final five as the Eagles head coach. Price went 34-20 and won the Class 2A state championship in 2018. He stepped down following the season and a 6-3 record. Price said with one of his two sons graduating high school this year, it was the right time for a move.

“I’m very excited. Several of the guys on the staff from last year are going to stay around. I’ve had great conversations with them. They’re great guys, man, and I think that continuity is going to be incredibly important for us,” Price said.

Price’s hire fills one of the top available jobs on the First Coast. The Sharks played for a state championship in 2016 under coach Matt Toblin and Mr. Football winner Nick Tronti. Ponte Vedra has made the state playoffs in eight of the 12 seasons that it has been eligible for the postseason, including the last six years in a row.

It has been somewhat of a slower coaching cycle thus far, likely due to the challenges of a 2020 season that went off under the cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic.

High school football coaching changes

SchoolNew coachOld coach2020 record
InterlachenErik GibsonRon Whitehurst (interim)5-5
MenendezTBAMark Galella (interim)5-6
MiddleburgRyan WolfeKarl Smeltzer0-10
PalatkaPatrick TurnerWillie Fells1-10
Ponte VedraSteve PriceBrad Kessel (interim)5-5

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