Last week, Gainesville High alum Ian Scott was introduced as the new head football coach of the Hurricanes.
Once again, his dad, Randy, was there to be a part of another special moment.
“It means a lot, one as a father to see your son come home, but two, as he’s had opportunities in college and pro where there’s a lot more money, a lot less hassle, but he’s always had the heart to come back and give back what was given to him,” said Randy Scott, who was a coach at GHS from 1994-2000.
According to Randy, the decision was based on his heart to get home and to be able to give back to young people.
“I think that was the overriding one, that he had gotten to a place where his kids are now in high school, they need to settle down, and he’s just ready to come home,” he said. “His kids get to grow up here, get to graduate here at GHS, and he and his wife are both here and we get to help with the grandkids, so it’s a family thing.”
Scott’s wife, Crystal, also went to school at GHS, and now their kids will get that opportunity.
“We want people that care about this place and care about the people in this place,” Ian Scott said. “We are invested in what’s going on here. This is home for us.”
Home was a special place for Scott, who was the school’s valedictorian while also excelling in sports.
A lot has changed in the 20 years plus since he graduated from high school.
His head football coach at GHS was Ed Janes, Kevin Whittaker was the offensive coordinator and his dad was the defensive coordinator.
“That was basically the varsity coaching staff my entire high school career,” Scott said. “Just those three guys. I don’t know how they did that.”
One of the things that Scott liked about Janes was that he just wanted them to be themselves.
“He cared about what we did off the field and he wanted us to do well in the classroom, obviously, and we had a good track record of people being able to do that," he said.
Ian didn’t play football until he got to GHS.
“I was too big to play,” he said. “There weren’t these AAU leagues where you could play with your age groups. When I was eight, I had to play with the 14-year-olds. It took me a while to find my confidence.”
Scott started out playing defensive end, but it wasn’t really working.
He was good at figuring things out and diagnosing stuff because he played goalie when he played soccer and he played the back of the press on the varsity basketball team.
“I was used to seeing everything from a distance,” he said. “Our offensive coordinator told my dad, ‘why don’t you stand him up and let him play linebacker,’ when I was going into the 10th-grade spring football. I made a few plays and that’s all I needed. I just needed a little bit of confidence.”
He said sometimes it’s the coach seeing something in you that you don’t necessarily see. He said that’s one of the things that he learned from all three of those coaches.
Scott ended up being a first-team Class 5A All State selection as both a junior and a senior, and he earned All-America recognition.
One of his favorite games in the purple and white was in the playoffs.
“Beating Rutherford (Springfield), 13-12, in the playoffs in my junior year after losing to them the year before, when we played them here at home, that was a knock them down, drag out fight,” he said. “I think that’s probably why we lost the next week because we put so much into that one and it was so physical. That game, man it felt so good to win and beat those guys.”
The following week they came close but lost at Osceola (Kissimmee), 33-20.
“That one hurts,” he said. “It’s memorable in a different way but those two games were huge.”
Scott reminisced about his basketball career too, which included two state championships in basketball.
The Hurricanes won back-to-back state titles in 1999 and 2000.
“The first one stands out the most because we didn’t know how much we were going to be able to do and Wolfson (Jacksonville) was a really good team with really good players,” Scott said. “We just overwhelmed them. That was a special moment.”
GHS won the Class 5A state title in 1999 with a 69-52 win against Wolfson and the 5A state title in 2000 with a 70-62 win against Brandon, both under head coach Anthony Long.
“The next year when we played that Brandon team with the Graham twins on it (Joey and Stephen, who both played in the NBA), they had moved down from 6A and everybody expected that to be the matchup the whole year. That game was back and forth for a while and being able to pull that out, those two games were special.”
While those were two special moments, they may not necessarily be the best.
“Some of my favorite memories were being here in our gym, people spilling out of the stands, and you make a play and we’ve got football players running all over the court watching us play,” he said. “It was just an awesome time. That’s what I’m looking forward to being a part of.”
I was thankful to be a part of the second state championship and broadcast many games for the Hurricanes that year on Hot Talk 1430 radio in Gainesville.
They were nationally ranked, and may have been the best ‘team’ that I’ve ever seen play in Alachua County.
Just watching some of their state championship game against Brandon and you can see why they were a special team.
Orien Greene, who was Florida’s "Mr. Basketball" as a senior in 2000, and Jerald Fields, who went on to get inducted into the East Tennessee State University Hall of Fame, were a part of that magical run, along with Vernell Brown, among others.
“Me and Orien played basketball together since we were 12,” Scott said. “We were together all the time, like year round. Me, Orien, Jerald (Fields), Jerry (Edwards), Elijah (Hooker), Twig is what we call him, he’s a firefighter now. We grew up together, so by the time we got to high school and we had played so much together, Coach Long used the stuff we did in middle school because we already knew how to do that. He fit it right into whatever he did and it took off.”
Scott said he thinks that is a little bit of what is missing, the community of growing up from youth up through high school and staying together that whole time.
“If we can find a way to bring that back together, and keep the kids that are in this community here, and not just turning over new faces," Scott explained. "I was the ball boy (for the football team) when I was in the seventh and eighth grades, so I knew half the football team when I got here as a freshman.
"These guys should know what the expectation is before they ever set foot on campus because they’ve done it through middle school and it’s something we can build so we can have sustained success and not just pockets of success here and there.”