FORT WALTON BEACH — Chip Petree values the weight room. He values academics. He values the multi-sport athlete.
He also values winning.
In his 30 years of coaching — including three years as Choctaw’s defensive coordinator and the last two as Fort Walton Beach’s defensive coordinator — the 53-year-old has held steadfast in his principals.
RELATED: Dorn steps down as FWB football coach
He’ll continue do so at Fort Walton Beach High, just with a new title: Head Football Coach.
Emerging from seven finalists who interviewed with the selection committee on Thursday, Petree was tabbed as the fourth Vikings’ head coach in six years.
"I’m very humbled. I’m very excited. And I’m very respectful of the head coaching title at Fort Walton Beach," Petree told the Daily News. "We have a great staff and a strong nucleus of players returning who are much more physically and academically developed than they were last year. I think those two run hand in hand and I’m excited to build on that."
ALSO: FWB’s Brundidge, Smith etch collegiate futures
"Chip will hit the ground running and begin immediately since spring practice is right around the corner," said FWB principal John Spolski, who was unavailable for further comment.
After interviewing seven candidates Thursday, the @FWBVikings hired George "Chip" Petree to replace Phil Dorn as head football coach.— Seth Stringer (@SethSnwfdn) March 6, 2020
Petree replaces current athletic director Phil Dorn, who went 9-30 over his four years at the helm, went 0-4 against Choctaw and never topped four wins in any year. Dorn, too, was unavailable for comment.
Before Dorn, Tommy Johnson went 1-9 and Mike Owens finished 1-9 in his swan song.
Because of the struggles, Petree understands the impetus on winning for a program that hasn’t had an above-.500 season since 2012 (7-3), the last time the Vikings defeated Choctaw.
"This is great football tradition that’s slipped a bit here recently, but I’ll do everything in my power to get back to that standard Fort Walton Beach set long ago," Petree said.
In his first move as head coach, Petree tabbed Josh Pulliam as defensive coordinator — "It’ll help the transition" — and met with his players during class.
"Because I’ve been here, they know me. They know my commitment to them," Petree said. "We’ll have a parents meeting next week and we’ll address where we’re at and where we want to be. We have so many two-, three-sport athletes at Fort Walton Beach who are in the weight room year round. That’s important for not just our football program in general, but the athletic department as well.
"We have athletes here at Fort Walton."
frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen>
Petree was last a head coach in 2012 for West Orange, where he turned a rebuilding project into back-to-back winning seasons for the first time in 20 years. Before that he coached at seven schools in North Carolina, including a stop at West Forsyth where he went 23-13.
Choctaw head coach Greg Thomas, who nabbed the fellow East Carolina University graduate in 2015, called it "a good hire."
"The thing with Chip is the kids will play hard for him," Thomas said. "I really think it was a good decision. He’s not only good from a football standpoint, he’s organized and always prepared. And he does a great job in the weight room."
As for the "The Game" rivalry, Petree understands the importance. He’s been on both sides.
"I’m happy seeing it from this side now," Petree said. "It’s such an important rivalry from this end of the county for both schools. We definitely need each other.
"But when both programs are successful, it makes the rivalry more exciting. We’re ready to do our part."