Meet the new boss; looks a lot like an old boss.

Meet the new boss; looks a lot like an old boss.

John Palmer returned to the locker room at Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School last week to offer a message and get acquainted with the players who figure to comprise the 2014 football roster.

The message was succinct – let’s continue the rebound of the past two years during which the Tiger Sharks have posted a record of 15-7.

“I wanted to give them a little bit of what our vision is coming in and that is to keep on with the upswing of the past two years,” Palmer said. “I was really pleased with the number of kids who came out.”

The locker room was, in fact, brimming with focused faces.

Palmer, who was submitting some paperwork in advance of his March 24 start date with Gulf District Schools, made the afternoon conclave primarily a get-to-know-you session.

In some cases he has seen the players on the field from the press box. In other cases, Palmer knows the number, but not the face or name.

So the meet-and-greet was a chance for a number of players to make themselves known to the new coach, approaching Palmer to say hello and provide a name to go with the number.

 And the coach countered with questions of his own.

“What side of the ball do you like?” What position to you prefer?’

But the banter was only a part of the meeting; the other was imparting some advice.

Hit the weight room most prominently as Palmer continued a strong emphasis by retiring Coach Chuck Gannon about the importance of adding muscle and explosiveness by attacking the heavy lifting.

Palmer also emphasized doing things the right way on and off the field.

And repeatedly expressed his happiness to be back with a program he led for seven years before leaving for his alma mater Hernando High in 2008 after posting a 57-27 record, including the 2005 Class 1A state title.

“I am excited to be back at Port St. Joe High School,” Palmer told his future team. “I am very excited to be back and it is good to be with you guys.”

Palmer takes over as football coach and athletic director from Gannon, who is in his final year in the state retirement program.

He is barred from taking a paid position with the district but all indications are that Gannon will serve as Palmer’s defensive coordinator, as he did during Palmer’s previous stint at Port St. Joe.

Palmer has not coached the past two seasons following a health scare but said his health issues are behind him. As in previous stops in Eustis, Bronson and Port St. Joe, Palmer led Hernando, which won just one game the season before he arrived, to the playoffs, reaching the postseason in just his second year at the school.

After two losing seasons, the Tiger Sharks resumed their winning ways the past two seasons under Gannon.

They went 7-3 in 2012, missing the playoffs on a tiebreaker, and finishing 8-4 last year after losing in the region semifinals.