Cocoa Tigers Head Coach John Wilkinson Leaves Cocoa After 13 Seasons To Return To New Smyrna Beach
By Space Coast Daily // March 7, 2018
Overall record of 144-25 in 13 seasons
ABOVE VIDEO: Wilkinson’s teams have been a perennial contender for state championships, capturing state titles in three consecutive seasons – 2008, 2009 and 2010, then added another title in 2016 – reached the state semifinals in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 and a state final appearance in 2017.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Cocoa High School football coach and Space Coast Sports Hall of Famer John Wilkinson is leaving Cocoa to be the head coach at New Smyrna Beach High School.
After leading the Tigers to four state championships in 13 seasons, Wilkinson made Cocoa one of the perennial high school football programs in the state of Florida for the last decade.
Wilkinson, at one point in his coaching career at Cocoa, helped lead Cocoa to 38 straight victories from 2008-2010.
Last season, looking to repeat as state champs of class 4A, the Tigers fell short against Raines 13-10.
After 13 seasons, Wilkinson finished with an overall record 144-25 (winning percentage of 85%) while at Cocoa.
Throughout his career of guiding the fortunes of prep football teams, Wilkinson himself has broken through the barriers of greatness and thrived under the most difficult of situations.
The Merritt Island High graduate carefully studied how to coach and motivate young athletes while earning a degree at the University of Florida.
Following college, Wilkinson returned to serve as a football assistant under Odom at Merritt Island High School.
He then accepted an offer to be an assistant coach for the University of Massachusetts football squad before returning to Florida and again joining Odom’s staff as an offensive coordinator, this time at New Smyrna Beach High School.
In 2002, Wilkinson was named head football coach at Brooksville Central High School and moved west, coaching that team through the end of the 2004 season.
Wilkinson was hired by Tigers’ athletic director Chuck Goldfarb to replace legendary football coach Gerald Odom in 2005. Odom recommended Wilkinson after he coached him while at Merritt Island High School in 1988.
For his efforts as Cocoa’s coach, Wilkinson was honored as 2011 Florida Coach of the Year by the National Federation of High Schools and in 2012 he was inducted into the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
John Wilkinson was inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.
Wilkinson’s decision to leave Cocoa continues an unusual circumstance for the Space Coast as Wilkinson’s move is the sixth head football coaching change in Brevard County this offseason.
Cocoa, Merritt Island, Eau Gallie, Viera, Bayside and Space Coast have all had coaching changes since November.
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