Marco Island football coach out over 'philosophical differences' with administration

Marco Island Academy

The Bill Cranston era didn’t last long at Marco Island Academy.

Cranston, who was hired in late May to replace Damon Coiro, stepped down from his post last week after “philosophical differences” between himself and school administrators.

One of the key differences he cited was adminstrators’ desire for him to be more proactive in raising funds for the program.

Cranston was hired before the school named Ryan Marie Roberts the athletic director, who has a strong fundraising background.

Bill Cranston, Marco Island Academy football

“I felt I was losing control of the direction of the program,” he said. “I’m an old school guy, I was hired to do a job and wanted to focus on that job, which was getting the kids ready to play what was going to be a very tough schedule, especially for a 20-man roster.”

Roberts said the fundraising issue shouldn’t have been a surprise, as it’s one of the 36 requirements outlined in the job description, provided to the Naples Daily News. Item number eight in that job description designates that a coach ‘actively participates in fundraising efforts to ensure students receive and exceptional high school athletics experience.”

“He knew that in order to build a program you’ve got to do it from the ground up,” she said. “And part of that is you need to be able to fund the program. Running a football program requires a lot of money, so none of this should have been a shock. There’s no ill feelings on our end, and we wish Bill the best of luck.”

Assistant coach Steven Kaplan has taken over on an interim basis and coached the squad in Friday night’s preseason scrimmage against Moore Haven. Kaplan played Division II college football in Indiana in the 1990s and was a high school assistant coach in the Chicago area before moving to Southwest Florida in 2001, where he launched a successful dock-building business based out of Goodland called Carter Dock.

Kaplan hadn’t coached in 17 years, but he took several crash courses this summer with his former mentor Jim Kirwan, brother of former Jets assistant coach and current SiriusXM NFL Radio analyst Pat Kirwan. He’s also friends with former Vikings head coach Brad Childress.

“When (Cranston) brought me in, he wanted me to run the offense so I began talking to Jim over the phone, asking him questions,” Kaplan said. “I eventually flew up (to Chicago) where we spent three days, from 7 in the morning until 10 at night, just football, football, football.”

Kaplan said he had never envisioned himself as a head coach, let alone the only coach on a staff.

“No sense for headsets, there’s nobody to talk to,” he joked. “My main goal is to teach these kids how to become complete football players, both on and off the field. How to compose themselves, how to prepare themselves each week. I want them to ask any questions and if I don’t have an answer right away, I’ll find the answer. I’m going to give them everything I have, because they’re giving me everything they have. It may be a small roster, but every kid out there really wants to be here, really wants to work.”

Marco Island opens the regular season against Community School on Friday in a game being played at Barron Collier.