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LEMOORE — It took Lemoore administrators nearly five months to find a new head football coach, but they’re sure they found the right person for the job.

Lemoore recently announced the hiring of Mitch Crossley, who takes over after former head coach Shannon Pulliam resigned in January.

Crossley, who has already started to work with Lemoore players during summer workouts, saw Lemoore as a perfect fit for him.

This past season, Crossley was an assistant at Montgomery High School in Santa Rosa. Before that, he was a head coach in Arizona.

“Lemoore had a reputation of being a football school,” Crossley said. “The fact that the town cares about football means something to me.”

A graduate of Western Oregon, Crossley comes to the Tigers with more than 20 years of coaching experience.

Crossley, who has already found a house in Lemoore, will also teach mathematics at the school.

That was one of the reasons it took Lemoore so long to find a head coach, Tigers athletic director Brady Holaday said.

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“For the best interest of the kids, we wanted to have a coach that was on-staff,” Holaday said. “We had to wait until we had teaching positions to offer. (Crossley) had a lot to offer and we’re excited. By not settling for the first person that came along, we think it will pay off.”

Crossley will take over for a Tigers team that has won two straight West Yosemite League titles under Pulliam. This past year, Lemoore went 10-3, advancing to the Central Section Division II championship game, where it lost to Ridgeview (Bakersfield).

Pulliam was suspended the week of that championship game while the school investigated a fight among players that left one injured. Pulliam admitted to making a comment prior to the fight that may have instigated it.

Pulliam was 35-13 in four seasons at Lemoore, winning three league titles.

Crossley said he plans to focus on plenty of aspects of the game. He's playing catch up after being hired nearly a month after other schools had started spring practices.

“We’re going to emphasize mentally toughness,” Crossley said. “Because when you’re mentally tough, you can beat men bigger than you. We want the kids to help each other to succeed. We want to win and we want to win the right way.”

Crossley said he had taken coaching positions before with not being on staff, but wanted to have a more personal relationship with his players. Teaching and coaching at Lemoore gave him that opportunity.

“I wanted to be able to see the kids every day so I could have a bigger impact on their lives,” Crossley said. “This was a perfect fit for me. I feel blessed to be here.”

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2431 or jbutters@HanfordSentinel.com. Follow him on twitter @jsbutters.

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