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Panthers, Pirates hire new coaches

A pair of familiar faces have been hired to take over the South Medford baseball squad and the Phoenix track and field program.

Former North Medford three-sport athlete Ray Smith was selected as head coach for the Panthers baseball program and Phoenix tabbed Marius Boone, a longtime multi-sport assistant coach in the area, to take over the track and field team.

Smith, who graduated from North Medford High in 1989, had been an assistant coach at Crater High for six seasons before becoming an assistant at South Medford in 2006. He coached the JV squad the past three years.

"He's surely been part of our success and knows what it takes, having been a part of our program," South Medford Athletic Director Dennis Murphy said. "He's very knowledgeable about baseball and relates well to the kids.

"I just think he's a good choice for us."

This is Smith's first high school head coaching position, although he has guided both Crater and South Medford's American Legion squads. Last summer, his South Medford Colts were 27-10, but missed the playoffs by one game.

Smith noted that only three experienced varsity players return, but that isn't an excuse for a lack of success once official practices begin on Feb. 22.

"The expectations are always high for Medford," Smith said. "We're a bit young.

"We're going to step out and compete. We've made the playoffs two of the past three years at South and we expect to keep that going."

Boone is also a first time head coach.

"I'm really excited about that," Boone said. "I've been waiting for that for awhile."

Boone had been an assistant coach for the Ashland track and field program since 1998, specializing in sprints, hurdles and jumps.

He also spent three seasons in the mid-1990s at Phoenix, helping guide the Pirates to a conference championship in his final year there.

"It's just nice to get back to the Phoenix-Talent School District," Boone said. "I'm looking to be in this position for quite some time."

Although this is his first heading coaching job, Boone said he has spent the past 15 years coaching track and field, basketball and football at both the middle school and high school levels.

Reach reporter Shawn Miller at 776-4469, or e-mail smiller@mailtribune.com