It’s been a while since the Wesley Chapel High School football team has celebrated a winning season—since 2011 to be exact.
Anthony Egan, the new head coach, hopes to change that.
Egan coached both the offensive and defensive line at River Ridge High School in New Port Richey for the past three seasons. He was named the Wildcats’ head coach in early January.
He officially begins working for Wesley Chapel High on Feb. 1 as an autism spectrum disorder specialist.
His first few weeks as Wesley Chapel’s head football coach have been a bit of a challenge logistically, as he’s had to drive from River Ridge to Wesley Chapel to orchestrate the football team’s offseason workouts and conditioning sessions.
Egan replaces Tico Hernandez, who stepped down after three tough seasons at Wesley Chapel, where he finished with a combined record of 4-26.
Despite the football program’s struggles over the past few seasons, Egan is confident he can improve the record, noting the program’s foundation and culture have already been instilled by the previous coaching staff.
“I’ve been checking out some of the talent we have, and I’m pretty excited about the quarterback, some returning running backs, and (we) even have a really good returning running back/linebacker, so I’m excited about coaching the kids that are coming back,” Egan said. “I’ve met the kids, and the kids seem to be excellent kids. …The (coaches) in the past have instilled that character in the kids.”
Quarterback Jacob Thomas, who’ll be a senior next season, is expected to be the centerpiece of the offense after throwing for more than 1,800 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2015.
“That quarterback, J.T., is pretty good, so definitely I’m going to try to give him opportunities,” Egan stated. “If that means running a little bit of the spread (offense), that’s fine, but I definitely want to give him his due opportunities because he was a very good quarterback for (Wesley Chapel) last year.”
While Egan plans to implement some principles of the spread offense to accommodate the skillset of Thomas, he also plans to put his own stamp on the team’s offensive philosophy, with the hope of giving them a better chance to win more regular season games.
“They struggled at times last year when they tried to spread it out and run that type of offense, and I think they’d be a lot closer in some of those games, and maybe have a chance to win some of them at the end, if they’d kept it closer with a little bit more ball control,” said Egan, who’s a former high school offensive lineman. “Maybe by taking a different approach and what I’m going to try to do with the (team), we can try to get the wins up and the losses down.”
Despite a lackluster record in 2015, the Wildcats had opportunities for more wins —losing three games by a margin of 7 points or less, and another by just 12 points.
Besides a different offensive philosophy from the previous coaching staff, Egan will also implement a pressure-oriented, 4-3 defense on the other side of the ball.
“It’s an aggressive, run-stopping defense with a lot of blitzing,” Egan explained. “It’s kind of a newer defense, and I don’t know if a whole lot of people know about it.”
As he transitions to his new post, Egan is also in the process of filling out his coaching staff at Wesley Chapel. He retained both Leon Haynes and JV coach Kudura Douglas from Hernandez’s staff, but is looking to add two, or possibly, three more assistants.
Egan joins a solid list of River Ridge alums who’ve gone on to become high school head football coaches at some point in their careers. The others include Mike Gregory (Tampa Catholic), Ryan Benjamin (River Ridge), Andy Schmitz (Mitchell High School), Brian Wachtel (Land O’Lakes High School) and Justin Fenton (Hudson High School).
Published January 27, 2016