Gavin Kralik saw Eatonville’s High School’s illustrious football history, with its past two coaches spending a combined 40 seasons there.
He saw a one-high-school town that’s passionate about sports and an administration that had everything Kralik wanted in building a Kralik-kind of football program.
And Eatonville saw what principal John Paul Colgan called a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity.
Kralik goes from the largest school in the state at South Kitsap to taking over as the next football coach at 2A Eatonville, the school released Friday – though it won’t be official until Wednesday pending school district board approval.
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"I think it’s a pretty special place when the past two coaches had been there as long as they had," said Kralik, who was speaking about Steve Gervais, who won three state titles in 16 seasons at Eatonville and George Fairhart, who went to the state playoffs 13 times in his 24 years there before leaving to take over at Gig Harbor in March – just like Gervais did before him.
But is Kralik built for the long haul like his two predecessors?
"I have six kids and my youngest is 2 and I would like them all to be in the same community," Kralik said. "If they will let us stay for a long time, that’s definitely the plan."
Eatonville also announced its hiring of Lisa Wolfe, a current Eatonville staff member, to take over as athletic director for Fairhart.
Kralik spent two seasons at South Kitsap, going 2-8 both seasons.
But he’s earned the reputation as an offensive guru. Before that he was the coach at Bethel from 2005-13 and Bay Area Christian in League City, Texas – where he took the school to the state championship game.
Kralik authored a book, "Gridiron Dynasties" that examined 12 of the most dominant football programs in the country and published in 2008. He graduated from Sumner High School and Liberty University University in Lynchburg, Virginia. His brother, Joe Kralik, was a wide receiver at the University of Washington.
He told the Kitsap Sun that his biggest reason for resigning at South Kitsap was that he couldn’t get kids working out in the weight room during the day like he felt the largest school in the state had to have in order to keep up with some of the top football programs in the state.
Kralik will also be the PE teacher at Eatonville. Colgan said he envisions a program set up similarly to what was in place when he was an assistant at Prosser during its 1999 state title season.
"Gavin knows what he wants and he was telling me the things he was looking for and it turns out that’s what we had to offer," Colgan said. "He obviously has a strong mind for the game, he’s high energy, he has an innovative offense.
"We were very happy with George Fairhart and Steve Gervais before that. This town has high expectations, and with the way the game has changed, we wanted someone with a lot of energy and can be prolific."
So what did Eatonville do? It brought in a ringer for its hiring committee.
Recently retired Tumwater coach Sid Otton has the most coaching victories in state history. Eatonville brought him in to help select its coach. They interviewed six candidates.
"Their interview process was by far the most detailed and thorough that I’ve been a part of," Kralik said. "Sid Otton was on the committee and it was a little bit intimidating. I go around, shaking everyone’s hand and he’s the last person I come to. I was like, ‘Whoa.’ And I have never met him before."
Kralik said he was looking forward to a community at Eatonville that more suits his style. Instead of about 170 kids trying out and 20 assistant coaches to manage, he’s expecting to have about a third of the staff and 65 players at a school that is one of the smallest in the 2A classification.
And he said he expects to be more of a coach than a CEO, like he was at South Kitsap.
"That’s why this job was so appealing to me," Kralik said. "It’s a great situation, even just for my own kids. In the big-school model what kids have to do in terms of having to stick to one sport or two and it’s an immense amount. I would like for my kids to be able to participate in a lot of things, but still be able to eat dinner together as a family."
Of all the known head football coach openings in the South Sound this offseason, only South Kitsap remains.
Tumwater hired Bill Beattie to replace Sid Otton; Olympia hired Steve Davis to replace Beattie; Gig Harbor hired Fairhart to replace Aaron Chantler; Kent-Meridian hired Jeff Scott to replace Brett Allen; Kentridge hired Brett Ogata to replace Marty Osborn; Wilson hired Amad Robinson to replace Don Clegg; and Life Christian hired Bobby Miller to replace Jess Nelson.
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