The result was worth the wait, according to Central High School administrators.
The school, which had the area's first football head coaching vacancy last November, became the area's last program to fill that void Friday afternoon by naming KiJuan Ware.
"He was our top candidate all along, but it has taken us a while to get his paperwork in order to make it official," Central athletic director Gary Fomby said. "You can see by his credentials that he is a top-notch coach, and we're very excited to have him. We believe he's the man who will take our program to the next level."
Ware takes over at Central after a coaching career spent predominantly at the collegiate level, including last season as the secondary coach at Eastern Michigan University. According to Ware, he had requested to work with the secondary at EMU so he could become a more well-rounded head coaching candidate.
Ware previously spent two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Western Illinois, where he also worked with running backs. He helped Miami (Ohio) University turn things around from a 1-11 finish the previous season to 10-4 in 2010, his first season there, including a GoDaddy.com Bowl win.
"I have been preparing my entire career to become a head coach," said Ware, who will teach math at Central. "The people I met at Central made me feel like this was the right place for me because, like me, they're in it for all the right reasons and that's for the kids.
"Coaching at the college level means being away from your family a lot, and this will also allow me to be home more with my wife and daughter, so it's a good move all around for me and my family."
A native of Hartford, Conn., the 38-year-old Ware was a two-sport standout in football (quarterback) and baseball (pitcher and first baseman) while at Springfield College and earned his master's degree from there in physical education and athletic administration.
In January 2000, he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar -- chosen for academic merit and leadership potential -- and studied in Tokyo.
He began his collegiate coaching career working at Springfield for two years and also spent five years as a teacher and offensive coordinator at Weaver High School in Hartford. He later worked for one season as an offensive intern and recruiting coordinator at Notre Dame and spent two seasons each at Dartmouth University and Georgetown.
"My goal is to become a college head coach, but I believe this is the right step for me to continue working in that direction," Ware said. "I grew up in Big East country and have worked in Big Ten country, but I've always heard about how important football is in the South and I'm excited to get to be a part of that."
Contact Stephen Hargis at email@example.com or 423-757-6293.