AVON PARK — The Avon Park Red Devils have named Lee Albritton as the head football coach. Albritton was the interim coach after the unexpected and tragic loss of Coach Jerry Hudnell who became ill midway through the season and passed away before the season ended. Albritton was the former boys soccer coach for the Red Devils.

“I am extremely excited to be the head coach,” Albritton said. “I am excited but nerves go along with that. The Avon Park football (team) is a big part of who influenced me and (made me) the person I am today. I look forward to having the same impact on the players for the next few years.”

The Red Devils are looking to their youth for growth.

“We had quite a few sophomore, juniors and first-time varsity players that we are looking forward to building off of,” the 2006 APHS graduate said. “Our record was indicative of the growth we had shown. I know the growth we had and we want to build off of that.”

Albritton played baseball, soccer and football in high school. He was a linebacker on the gridiron.

Coach Hudnell’s sudden passing had a major affect not only on Albritton but also on the players.

“Last year was crazy and an unfortunate circumstance to be in,” Albritton said. “I didn’t think of it as preparing me to be head coach. My thoughts and prayers were always for Coach Hudnell to come back. The loss of Coach Hudnell was tough on the players and you could see it. Teenagers are not always vocal on things but what we went off of as coaches was body language. They had their good days and bad days, but overall I think they handled it encouragingly. They never quit and never gave up and that was one of the things Coach Hudnell instilled in them. That spoke a lot to him.”

Albritton is ready to make a mark in Avon Park football history.

“Schematically we will stray away a little bit from what Hudnell had going on,” Albritton said. “Particularly the offense he was putting in. That was something he ran up in Ohio so none of us are extremely familiar with it, so we will go a route we are more comfortable with. As far as his beliefs as a coach, how players should pray and things like that, we will keep that established. I plan on making my own impression on the program and make a few tweaks here and there as far as how I want things done, and how I expect the kids to perform at practice, in play and in the classroom.”

The Avon Park Red Devils and Albritton have begun workouts and are excited to begin spring football in April.