By Jeff Odom
Wesley Chapel named Tico Hernandez as its third football coach in program history Dec. 17, crossing enemy lines to do so.
Hernandez, 34, is a Leto High and University of South Florida graduate, and most recently served as an assistant at Wiregrass Ranch. He was also the football coach at Weightman Middle and John Long Middle, where he is currently the Longhorns athletic director.
“We have a new motto at Wesley Chapel — building men for others,” Hernandez said. “I’m excited to be here, and I plan on being here for awhile.”
Hernandez takes over for Ben Alford, who went 12-18 in three years at the helm. He resigned his position last month to take a director job in Iowa.
“I’ve seen this team on the other sidelines for almost nine years, and I’m just fortunate to have this opportunity,” Hernandez said. “One of the biggest things I can do is be here for these kids and their families, and I want to make everyone a part of this process with the same passion and dedication that I have.”
One of the biggest goals Hernandez has is keeping the academic success of the program alive. He plans on rewarding players with a champions dinner cooked by fellow coaches for their academic performance.
Hernandez said getting everyone onboard is a major necessity to spark interest in the team, which finished last season 3-7.
“These kids have a bunch of people behind them,” Hernandez said. “Not just the coaches, but the campus and teachers. It’s going to take the entire community and local businesses and business leaders to get behind the team and help us.”
The Wildcats lose running back Dequan Caesar and leading wide receiver Jordan Primus to graduation, but return quarterback Ty Tanner and linebacker Nalu Fraticelli.
Hernandez was chosen out of a pool of 22 applicants, including Bishop McLaughlin offensive coordinator Micheal Burns, Steinbrenner offensive line coach Gregg Puskas and former Sickles coach Pat O’Brien. He is the second Wiregrass Ranch assistant moving to a coaching position, joining Mike Lawrence, who was promoted by the Bulls two weeks ago.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.