The Ocoee Knights have named their new football coach: Aaron Sheppard, formerly of Fort Pierce's Westwood High.
Sheppard comes to the Knights after two seasons leading the Panthers, during which time Westwood went 9-10 overall and 6-3 in 2017. The Panthers made the playoffs in both seasons he was at the helm, and in 2017 they won the FHSAA Class 5A, District 15 title — the program's first district title since 2010.
Bill Alderman, who was named Ocoee High's new athletic director Dec. 21, confirmed the hiring of Sheppard Friday and said that more than 90 applicants sought out the position. Alderman was previously an assistant athletic director under Scott Howell.
"The thing about Aaron is his energy," Alderman said. "When he speaks, people stop and listen. He’s talked to the kids and they’re chomping at the bit to go to work with him."
Sheppard replaces Jason Boltus, who coached the Knights for one season after previously serving as the team's offensive coordinator under Ben Bullock, who departed to coach Lake Highland Prep this past winter. The Knights went 1-9 in Boltus' one season as head coach, but the team has a strong core group of underclassmen, which likely contributed to the interest in the opening.
Sheppard will represent Ocoee's third coach in the past three seasons and its fourth in the past five seasons, dating back to Dale Salapa, who left the program after the 2014 season.
Observer Preps correspondant Nate Marrero contributed to this report.