By Ken Barhorst
HOUSTON — Houston High School has a head boys basketball coach again, its third in the last three seasons.
Mark Platfoot, who spent last season as a varsity assistant to head coach Brad Francis, was named to replace Francis, who stepped down after one season with the team.
“I’m very excited,” said Platfoot. “It’s something I’ve always wanted, so it’s been pretty exciting since I found out.”
Platfoot is a Jackson Center High School graduate who played ball for coach Bill Reichert. His previous coaching experience before becoming varsity assistant last year was coaching junior high for a few years at Houston and at a charter school in Dayton.
He inherits a program that has an excellent tradition, but has fallen on hard times recently. The 2010-11 Houston team advanced to the Division 4 state tournament. But there has been just one winning season since, and only 12 total wins over the last three seasons, including 3-20 last year.
“Last year we played three or four sophomores at the end of the year, and we have a good freshman group,” said Platfoot. “But we’re obviously one of those programs that is building for the future. Right now we have a lot of guys really interested, so we’re getting a few more numbers. But keeping the numbers up is important, and we have to start low, in the elementary building, and get that interest up and working in the right direction with their skill set.”
He held off promising a certain style of play, preferring to see what fits his players.
“A lot of it will depend on personnel,” he said. “We won’t have have the size of some teams. We will want to play with some pace, but we will have to stay under control. And like any coach, I think we have to play hard-nosed defense and rebound like crazy. We’ll have maybe three guys in the 6-2 or 6-3 range, so we have to play defense and we have to rebound.
And I remember when I played against Houston in high school and they were always a team that played hard,” he added. “That hasn’t changed over the years, and we need to keep it that way.”
He said he was surprised when Francis stepped down after one season to pursue a business opportunity.
“I was surprised,” Platfoot said. “I learned a lot from him. He worked hard and did a great job, and I was hoping for a few more years learning under him. But I’m happy and wish him nothing but the best.”
Platfoot, a junior high history and English teacher at Houston, knows how tough it can be in the Shelby County League.
“Winning in any sport in the County isn’t easy,” he said. “You’re going to have to get after it. We stressed that last year, that we just have to play tougher. It’s going to be how hard you play in the offseason, and we’ve already talked to the kids about getting in the gym.”
Platfoot said he was planning on remaining a part of the program even after Francis resigned, so he already had plans made for offseason workouts.
“So I don’t think we’re too far behind,” he said.