Football runs in the Thornton family.
As coach of East Bay High School, Michael Thornton's father Brian was somewhat of a legend, racking up more than 100 wins while in charge of the Indians program. His grandfather was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame for his work as a high school coach. Now, Michael Thornton will take over the fledgling Riverview Sharks program and attempt to create a legend of his own.
"Obviously it's a bit of a double edged sword," Thornton said of his family's exploits in football. "I'm very proud of what my family has done as football coaches, but there is a lot of pressure to live up to what they did. In this day and age coaching has changed and building a consistent perennial program is difficult so I have to do it my own way and it's not going to happen overnight, so I'll just have to be patient."
Thornton has spent the last three years cutting his teeth in Lee County with Cypress Lake High School in Fort Myers, but he is excited by the prospect of returning to Hillsborough where he feels at home and knows the football is played at a higher level.
"With no disrespect to Lee County, Hillsborough is one of the premier spots in the state to build a program," Thornton said. "I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to come down to Fort Myers and gain some experience but now I feel I'm ready to come back and put some of that experience to use in Hillsborough. I'm blessed to step up to a (Class) 7A school with 2,500 students in doing it."
Thornton takes over a sharks program that struggled last season, finishing with a record of 2-9. There were no shortage of discipline problems, and at the end of the season, coach decided that the school should go in a different direction by handing in his resignation. Now, Thornton will attempt to pick up the pieces and create his own culture with the Sharks.
"The opportunity to relocate back home and put together a staff of people that I'm familiar was the most important thing," Thornton said. "Both my wife and I have family in the area, so it's nice to be going back to our families. I've gotten the scoop from friends in the area, and I know that Riverview has fallen on hard times but I feel confident with the community and the school that we can build the Sharks program back up to what it once was."
For school officials, bringing in Thornton was an easy decision because of their familiarity with him. Athletic director Kevin Massena believes that the knowledge Thornton can bring to the table combined with his enthusiasm is all the Sharks need to get back to winning ways.
"Mike's father, having been a coach at East Bay, makes him very well known in the community and a desirable commodity," Massena said. "He and our principal here at Riverview have known each other for a long time, so it really came down to us going with what we know. He'll be enthusiastic, and he has an attention to detail which we need because we didn't do the little things very well last year."