By Kyle LoJacono
John Benedetto was a fixture on the football field at Land O’ Lakes High for 32 seasons, and now the longtime coach’s name will likely live forever on the Gators’ stadium.
The Pasco County School Board placed a proposal to rename the arena John Benedetto Stadium on the consent agenda for its meeting June 19.
District spokeswoman Summer Romagnoli said generally such items are quickly approved, but the action taken was not available by press time.
“That would be something very special,” Benedetto said. “It’s not something I would have ever expected. I really don’t know what to say other than I’m very honored.”
Benedetto took over the program in 1977. His teams went 196-149 during his time at the helm, the most wins of any football coach in Pasco history. The Gators had 18 winning seasons, including a county-record 12 straight postseason berths from 1996 to 2008.
Benedetto was forced to retire after the 2008 season, his final year in the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP).
A group of community leaders have pushed for the renaming, including former Gators linebacker and current state Rep. Will Weatherford and his younger brother Drew, who played quarterback with Land O’ Lakes, Florida State University and the Tampa Bay Storm.
“It’s great that so many people took the time to go talk to the school board about this,” Benedetto said. “I had a lot of great players and great coaches. They’re really the reason we were able to do what we did.”