George Hurley, a longtime Newbury Park High assistant coach, was named Wednesday to replace Ken Cook as the school's football coach, 14 years after becoming a varsity assistant.
Hurley joined Cook's staff in 1975 as offensive and defensive lines coach after three years as a lower-level assistant.
The announcement, by athletic director Bill Manzer, ended weeks of speculation that Hurley would succeed Cook. Hurley, among his other qualifications, is an on-campus teacher.
"George is a known quantity," Manzer said. "He's here. And I want my head football coach to be on campus. Football sets the tone for the whole year."
Upon his resignation, Cook endorsed Hurley. "I think he deserves a shot at it," Cook said. "I think George has a tendency to get along well with the kids. He's likeable.
"I think we all would have been shocked if he wasn't named. It was just a matter of when."
Hurley takes command of a team that posted a record of 3-6-1 last season and has not qualified for the playoffs since 1986. Additionally, Jai Johnston, who would have been among the league's best quarterbacks and defensive backs next season, has moved to Pennsylvania with his family. It leaves the Panthers, as Hurley says, "quarterback-less."
"It's going to take some hard work," Hurley said. "Right now, we don't have a kid in the program who is a pure quarterback."
Still, Hurley looks forward to his long-awaited opportunity. "If I have any goals it would be to help the school and these kids to maintain the integrity the previous coaches had," he said. "It will be a sound program and we'll play hard.
"Hopefully, we'll get back to playing good, basic hard-nosed football. And we've got the kids to play good football."