By Andy Villamarzo
Hernando Sun sports writer
JAN. 14, 2019 WEEKI WACHEE- Football season has been done for quite awhile in Hernando County, but somehow still remains newsworthy well into mid-January.
Reason now being that there’s a head coaching vacancy in the county, as Jacob Gray has resigned as head coach at Weeki Wachee High School, per a press release sent out by athletic director Bill Vonada Monday afternoon. Gray and the Hornets were coming off a 4-6 season in 2018, with the club setting school records in several categories. No imminent timetable was given on when an interim coach would be named.
The press release by Vonada is down below.
“Weeki Wachee High School Athletics and Coach Jacob Gray have decided to part ways at this time. It became evident that the relationship was not an ideal fit due to philosophical differences in the fundamental purpose of sports at the high school level. Furthermore, it was also evident that Coach Gray desired to move to an area that better fit his coaching philosophy. While we certainly understand this desire, we do not believe it is in the best interest of our program to wait any longer to see when or where he will be relocating, especially in light of the preparations for the next season that are already underway at most schools.
We are thankful for Coach Gray’s efforts as well as the improvement we have seen in our football team’s record, and wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Coach Gray will retain his teaching position at this time.” – Vonada
Gray came to Weeki Wachee from Bolles High School in Jacksonville, in which he previously served as a special teams coordinator. After taking over a 0-10 team, Gray led the Hornets to a 3-7 record in 2017 and followed it up with a one win improvement this past season. The 2018 campaign was filled with various records broken, including quarterback Vaughn Sykora setting the all-time single season passing touchdowns record in Hernando County.
“I knew (Vaughn Sykora’s) arm was good,” Gray said. “Some of the decision making.. isn’t something you see in kids a lot these days. I knew we had to rely on him in this offense. As a sophomore he had some bumpy times. He had a really good receiving corps around him.”
Potential replacements vary from Vonada himself, who has been a head coach at Springstead and Hernando already, to some potential outsiders. Former Gulf High School and Ridgewood High School head coach Jay Fulmer and former Pasco head coach Tom McHugh are a couple names that pop out. Fulmer also has a past background working with Weeki Wachee High School principal Troy LaBarbara, as they worked together at Gulf High School.
Gray will retain his teaching position at Weeki Wachee High School and feels any one of his assistants would be well abled to take over the program. What’s next for him? He said he’s not exactly sure, but he knows one hundred percent that he’ll be on a football somewhere this August.
“I don’t know,” Gray said. “Obviously there’s a lot of coaches in the state of Florida that would tell you that coaching out of state would be an appealing thing. This is going to be a family decision on my end. When I got into this coaching thing I was just 25 and it was a very me decision. I’m going to sit down with my wife and make a family decision. We’re taking a little different perspective on this. We want to go somewhere that we could have a long term fit. I can tell you I’ll be on a football field somewhere this August.”
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.