Posted: 11:27 am Friday, June 7th, 2013

Longtime West Boca Raton coach Willie Dodaro steps down, Junior Moran named replacement 

By Matt Porter

The only football coach West Boca Raton High has ever had, Willie Dodaro, has stepped down.

Dodaro, who joined the brand-new school in 2004, said at age 56, he couldn’t produce the passion needed to be a head coach. In a reduced role, he will become an assistant coach at a high school in northern Georgia. He and athletic director Randy Kalman think the Bulls will be in good hands with Alphonso ‘Junior’ Moran, his 28-year-old former defensive coordinator.

Willie Dodaro, shown coaching on the West Boca sideline in 2011. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

Willie Dodaro, shown coaching on the West Boca sideline in 2011. (Greg Lovett/The Palm Beach Post)

“Anyone with that wealth of experience, you’re deeply sad to see him go,” Kalman said. “As sad as we are to see him go, we’re excited about Junior.”

Moran, a 2003 graduate of Boca High, played two seasons of college football at Kansas State. A 6-foot, 290-pound tackle, he appeared in 23 games, racking up 21 tackles as a freshman and earning first-team freshman All-Big 12 honors. He left the program for personal reasons before his junior season (2007).

He joined Dodaro’s staff in 2008 and has been calling the defense for the last two years. The Bulls allowed 30.9 points per game last year in a brutal District 13-7A, but 23.3 in 2011. Moran wants to improve those numbers, as well as improve on last year’s 2-7 record (2-4 in 13-7A).

This year, West Boca welcomes Forest Hill, Olympic Heights and Palm Beach Lakes in a reshaped, eight-team 13-7A with Dwyer, Atlantic, Royal Palm Beach and Lake Worth (click here to review the rest of the new districts).

“I want to compete in the district, first of all,” Moran said. “I’m not saying we’re going to win it, but I want to compete. We have to get stronger and a little more athletic. I think we’ll get things moving in the right direction.”

Moran, in his K-State days

Moran, in his K-State days

Moran will be the 12th new head coach in Palm Beach County this fall. Dodaro, who finished his ninth year at West Boca, was the third-longest-tenured head coach in the county (Benjamin’s Ron Ream, 32 years; Dwyer’s Jack Daniels, 17 years).

Dodaro spent 33 years coaching football in Palm Beach and Broward Counties. Before West Boca, he was Olympic Heights’ head coach for six years and was at Davie-Nova for 15 years, including two as a head coach. He played middle linebacker at Indiana State.

While saying goodbye to West Boca this week has been emotional, the timing was otherwise good. One of his daughters teaches at the school. The other is a student at Palm Beach State. Dodaro, his wife and three dogs will move to Chatsworth, Ga. to become a linebackers coach at North Murray High under head coach David Gann.

“There’s always been a lot of support for me. I had a lot of good bosses to work for. I had a lot of great teachers to work with. I had a lot of great ballplayers play for me,” Dodaro said. “I’m very proud to be able to assist in so many lives. It’s been a wonderful experience. If I had to do it again, I’d do it the same way.

He said he’s proud to leave the program to Moran, whom he brought on staff five years ago – “I think he was grooming Junior before Junior knew he was being groomed,” Kalman mused – and believes the first-year coach’s energy is exactly what is needed.

“It’s a great person who can really move the program. He’s young and the kids will play for him. He has the fire – a lot of fire,” Dodaro said with a laugh. “He’ll get that place going.”

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