PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) – North Bay Haven announced their program’s fourth head football coach by hiring former Hilliard head coach John Pate on Thursday.

Pate brings in several decades of coaching experience at both the collegiate and high school levels.

His most recent job was as the head coach for Hillard High School, a 1A program north of Jacksonville where he went 27-15 in four seasons and finished 17-3 in his last two years.

Pate led the Red Flashes to three straight FHAAA playoff appearances and was named the Class A District 5 Coach of the Year in three consecutive seasons.

He has spent the last 15 years coaching at the high school level but previously was a coordinator at Georgia Southern where he was a part of four national championships appearances (three wins) and was also the head coach at an NAIA program.

Pate said on Thursday afternoon that this was an obvious choice for him to come coach in the Panhandle and that he will take the program in the right direction one step at a time.

“My realistic goal, our first goal is that we have to have a winning season, that’s the first goal,” Pate said. “We have to get a winning season, then the goal of getting in the playoffs, then winning a playoff game, then hosting a playoff game, these are all steps you take as you build one.”

North Bay Haven will host a reception for the players, parents and staff to formally introduce Coach Pate on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. in the school’s media center.