Tim Hardy laid the foundation for Mountain View's football program, opening up the school in 2009 and coaching there until last month. Because of that, he had a serious interest in who the Bears hired as his replacement as head football coach.
When the school announced the promotion of assistant coach Doug Giacone on Monday, Hardy was thrilled with the new hire, who had been the Bears' defensive coordinator under Hardy since the program began. The two coaches didn't know each other before Mountain View was built, but they became good friends and figured out that they had played college football against each other -- Hardy at Wheaton (Ill.) and Giacone at Millikin (Ill.).
"I'd say it's great for Mountain View High School and the Mountain View community," said Hardy, who stepped down last month to become head coach at Greater Atlanta Christian. "Doug's a community guy. He's a true Mountain View guy. He cares about the players. He cares about the school. He cares about the community. He's a fantastic guy for the job.
"He's an excellent football coach and he will do a great job. (Monday) was a good day for Mountain View."
Giacone has been both the defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach for the Bears the past three seasons. His hiring as head coach was announced Monday by the Grayson administration.
"I just really feel blessed that the administration allowed me to take over the journey Tim and I started three years ago," Giacone said. "That's a testament to their belief in the direction of the program, the continuity and everything the community, the Touchdown Club and the kids have been doing."
Though Giacone is a first-time head coach, he has extensive experience in coaching that includes six seasons at the college level from 1999 to 2004. He coached linebackers for two seasons at his alma mater, Millikin, and then was Georgia Southern's defensive backs coach from 2001-04. He worked for Paul Johnson and Mike Sewak in Statesboro.
He followed that up with three seasons at Grayson from 2005-07 and spent one season as Riverside Military Academy's defensive coordinator before joining Hardy at Mountain View.
Giacone plans to remain defensive coordinator for now, but he still must find a replacement for Hardy, who also served as the Bears' offensive coordinator.
"That's my first priority, to hire an offensive coordinator," Giacone said. "We have a few candidates on staff that I think are good candidates and I've got to talk with them. But I'm willing to look outside the program, too. I'm looking for someone I jell with philosophically and who has the same beliefs on how we're teaching young men."
Mountain View experienced immediate success in 2009, when it played a combo schedule of varsity and junior varsity games, but spent the past two seasons getting adjusted to tough Region 7-AAAAA. The Bears went 2-8 in their first attempt at a region schedule in 2010 and followed it up with a 3-7 record last year.
One of the highlights last season was the program's first-ever win over rival Mill Creek, a 9-7 victory on Sept. 16. The Mountain View administration liked the Bears' progression enough to turn the program over to Giacone.
"Doug's been here from the start, from the inception," Mountain View athletic director Wayne Smith said. "He's done a great job for us and he'll continue to do a great job leading the program."
The Bears' current assistants were pleased to get the news Monday that their staff would remain intact with an in-house hire. The players will get the news about Giacone's hire Monday afternoon.
Despite Hardy's absence, the new coach said he's been pleased with what's happened in recent weeks.
"It's been status quo the past two weeks since Coach Hardy went to GAC," Giacone said. "That's really shown the strength of what we've built here. We've had great attendance at afternoon workouts. We've had great attendance from our eighth-graders who come up twice a week. Again, that's a testament to what Coach Hardy and the rest of us have built."
THE GIACONE FILE
Name: Doug Giacone
New position: Head football coach at Mountain View
Former position: Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Mountain View
Career record: First head coaching job
Education: Graduated from West Frankfort High School; earned degree in history from Millikin University (Ill.) and master's degree in educational leadership from Walden University
Background: Has been the Bears' defensive coordinator since the school opened in 2009; also coached at Grayson from 2005-07; spent six seasons coaching at the college level, including four seasons at Georgia Southern under Paul Johnson and Mike Sewak; played college football at Millikin
Family: Wife Cristina