New Poinciana football coach Randy Beeken knows exactly what he’s getting into with the Eagles’ program. As the junior varsity coach the last four years, as well as the wrestling coach and a baseball assistant, he’s seen the challenges from the inside – current ones and those of the school’s less-than-stellar gridiron past.
“Since this school opened (in 1995) they’ve averaged 1.6 wins a year and a new coach every 1.75 years,” he said. “That won’t be me. This will be my first (football) head coaching job … and my last. I’m not looking for any ladder to move up. When I’m done, I’m done.”
Beeken, 53, has replaced Phillip Prior, who coach the Eagles one year to a 2-8 season – the wins came back-to-back for the first PHS winning streak since 2013 – who returned to his alma mater of Tampa Wharton to be an assistant. He said he put in for the job because the players in the Eagle program, who will be getting their third coach in three years, “need some stability.”
“They need someone to be there. Every year it’s someone new, and it’s hard to get teenagers to buy in to a new guy over and over,” he said. “These kids know me.”
It wasn’t lost on PHS Athletic Director Rob Weilert, who has been the AD there for about a year and yet has hired two football coaches.
“He’s someone who the kids know and respect,” Weilert said of Beeken. “He’s a guy who gives us continuity. These kids need that.”
Beeken, Poinciana’s auto shop teacher, was an assistant coach at East Ridge for a year before coming to PHS. He’s also coached in youth leagues for over a decade. His son, Connor Beeken, played running back, quarterback and kicker the last three years, and will graduate this spring. Coach Beeken is currently preparing for the wrestling district, regional and state tournaments, and will start preparing for spring football soon after.
“We’ll look a little different next year than we have. I’m willing to coach to the talent,” Beeken said. “I’m not here to change the culture. The kids will succeed if we work with the culture.”
Poinciana’s schedule the next two years includes Tohopekaliga, Celebration, Lake Howell and Lake Region out of a district that includes Liberty, Bartow, Winter Haven and George Jenkins.
“I hope I can say at the end of the year we’re 7-3,” Beeken said. “But it took 25 years for things to get this bad, so it’s not going to change overnight. But the wins will come if the coaching staff can stay intact.”