Shaun Arntz describes himself as "Freeport to the core."
He and his family moved to town before he entered kindergarten, he was a three-sport athlete (football, baseball and basketball) at Freeport High School — where he holds the Bulldogs' longest touchdown reception — and has coached as an assistant at the school for nine seasons.
On Thursday the 31-year-old Arntz was named Freeport athletic director and head football coach, pending school board approval.
"We're very excited. He's homegrown and has been at Freeport High School for nine years," Freeport principal Tripp Hope said. "When you can have that continuity, someone who knows the kids and knows the community, has been a coach in not only football but in other sports, in this case even an alumni, all those things make a big difference.
"He's put the time and the work in, not only as a coach, but in the classroom here at Freeport as well."
Said Arntz, "It's a natural fit. I've always supported and been the biggest fan of every sports team at Freeport High School, middle school and the youth leagues. I only want success on the playing field and in society for all the kids and coaches in all these sports.
"(The program has been left) in pristine condition. If it was a used car, it would have a very, very high value. Everyone has a great ethic and great character. And that's where you start when you look at building a program. I look to build off that and put in my own twists."
In Arntz's nine seasons as an assistant, the Bulldogs won an average of just over five games per season, including a 6-4 campaign this year and an 11-win season in 2009 and a nine-win season in 2010.
Many around the program — including former head coach Jim Anderson, who led the Bulldogs for 16 seasons — believe Arntz was groomed for the job. For the past three seasons, Arntz has been the Bulldogs' associate head coach. This season he became the first coach other than Anderson to call offensive plays during Anderson's tenure.
"He's earned everything he's ever gotten, whether it has been as a player or as a coach," Anderson said. "He's a great guy, he's an excellent coach and I think he's going to be a fine head coach now that he's gotten this opportunity."
Said Zack Seay, a senior on this past season's team, "I think it's a great hire. One I was rooting for. I'm glad the school brought in someone familiar with Freeport and loves it. He's a really great guy, one I'm very close with and has a tremendous work ethic and energy. He'll have everybody ready to play."
For Arntz, who walked-on as a receiver for Southern Miss after his high school career, the new label won't change much — if anything — about the plan he's already set into motion.
Freeport has a total of 43 freshmen, sophomores and juniors participating in spring workouts. Usually the program has that many players in all four gravel levels. On Friday, Arntz and several assistants will drive down to Tampa for a coaching seminar.
"I'm excited to continue the work we've been putting in since the (football) season ended," Arntz said. "I'm excited to continue building off the successful season we had last year and continue that uphill climb we've had since not making the playoffs in 2012. We're going to do everything we can to get back there."
The next Walton County school board meeting is March 7. It is not yet known whether the approval of Arntz will be on the agenda for that meeting or not.