It's a job Sid Wheatley didn't necessarily seek out, but he couldn't imagine his life without it.
Flashback to the summer of 2009.
Coming off another successful season as the head baseball coach for Northview -- a year in which the Chiefs went 14-10 and dropped a 2-1 decision to Holmes County in the Class 3A state playoffs -- Wheatley was approached about the sudden opening of the head football job.
Cody Keene, who had actually brought Wheatley to Northview as an assistant on his football staff, abruptly resigned to take a job at Hooper Academy in Montgomery, Ala.
Faced with trying to hire a new coach a mere month before the season, school administrators decided to look internally, and Northview players felt they knew just the right person for the job.
The players went to Northview principal Gayle Weaver to give their recommendation for the job, and the resounding favorite was Wheatley.
A few days later, Wheatley was hired as the interim head football coach. In August, the move was made official, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Tonight at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Wheatley and the Chiefs (10-3) will try to add to his short, but illustrious history when they play No. 1-ranked Trenton (13-0) for the Class 1A state championship at 6:07 p.m.
"I had been around the kids there for four years," Wheatley said. "I was comfortable with them, they were comfortable with me. I felt like it was something I needed to do and wanted to do. The football part has been a big part of my life these last few years and it's been a good run."
The Chiefs went 7-3 that first season under Wheatley, narrowly missing the state playoffs after finishing third in District 1-1A play.
The following season, though, the Chiefs went 11-2 and advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Wheatley and the Chiefs have advanced to the state semifinals each of the last two years to give them a string of three regional titles in a row.
The Wheatley Way has obviously been successful. The Chiefs are 36-12 overall in his four seasons and 7-2 in the playoffs. Fast fact: Northview is 8-8 all-time in the state playoffs, dating back to the first appearance in 1997.
And now the Chiefs will play for the top prize tonight, looking for the school's first state championship in any sport.
"I couldn't have imagined what we've done," Wheatley said. "We won seven games the first year and now three region championships in a row, now a state final berth. In the history of the school, they had never had a regional champion.
"I don't think you could ever see it playing out that way. We're blessed and fortunate to have a great group of kids that really bought into what we were selling and worked their butts off in the weight room. And I'm proud to be a part of it."
Senior tailback LaMikal Kyles was a freshman on the Chiefs' squad when Wheatley took over in 2009. He said the players knew instantly that things would be good under him.
"Coach Wheatley has made a big difference," Kyles said. "We all knew he worked hard and expected us to work hard. He's a great coach. He's done a lot for us here."
The next step is a state championship.
Standing in the Chiefs' way is No. 1 Trenton, which has racked up a 24-1 record over the last two seasons -- the lone loss coming in the Region 3-1A finals last year against eventual champion Jefferson County.
The demeanor of the Northview players this week certainly yields no hint that the Chiefs are playing for a state title.
"I think that's a sign of their maturity," Wheatley said. "We have a lot of seniors on this team and we have a bunch of guys that are three-year starters and have been right there on the verge of this.
"We're going to stay three nights -- going to this hotel, going to this restaurant -- but the reason we're doing this is to play a football game."
The Chiefs took a trip last week to Liberty County, and blew out the Bulldogs by a 48-14 margin in the semifinal round. Northview broke up the trip over two days, driving to Marianna on Thursday and spending the night before driving to Liberty County on Friday.
"I definitely think it helped and we tried to make sure they knew this was not a vacation, this was a business trip," Wheatley said. "I think it's about making sure this moment is not too big for them and making sure they understand if there was going to be a pressure game, it was this past Friday, because that's the one that can stop you from getting to the title game."
Wheatley has been preaching to the team all week that if they play with the same intensity and drive they came out with against Liberty County, the result will take care of itself.
"They're going to give themselves a great chance to win if they play mistake-free football on offense and limit your penalties," Wheatley said. "And on defense, play great defense like we did and play very physical, we're going to have a chance to win the game.
"I've talked to them about (the magnitude of the game) and I don't know if it's fully hit everybody. This is the moment every single kid that plays high school football dreams about."