BROOKSVILLE- It took over two months and some change, but the Hernando Leopards have themselves a new head football coach.
The Hernando Leopards have tabbed Clearwater Countryside defensive coordinator John Scargle as the program’s next head coach, in a release via the school’s athletics website. Scargle takes over from Earl Garcia III, who stepped down as Hernando’s coach back in December and ended up taking the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator job at Plant High School.
The Leopards ended up going 6-5 last season under Garcia III and went 7-2 in the 2020 campaign. Hernando will have to replace some key players from last season’s team, including running back Jordan Williams and linebacker Sam Sternberger. Hernando was the only team out of Hernando County that was in search of a new head coach.
“We are so excited to welcome Coach Scargle and his family to our Leopard family,” Hernando principal Leechele Booker said in a statement via Hernando’s athletics website.
“We wanted our next head coach to be someone that plans to invest time into our students, football program and Brooksville community. We look forward to what Coach Scargle will bring to our school and football program for many years to come. We heard nothing but positive responses from his references, including a coach from the Dallas Cowboys that said we found the right guy for our school and program.”
The 2021 campaign was a very up and down season for Hernando, as the Leopards started the off with a 43-2 loss to Zephyrhills and then they won three games in a row, including a rivalry win over Nature Coast 27-21. After that, however, Hernando was inconsistent and went 3-4 the rest of the way and that included a 48-14 region quarterfinal loss to Bushnell South Sumter.
There has yet to be a coach over the past two decades that has lasted more than four seasons. The likes of Bill Vonada, Rob Kazmier, Matt Smith, Dwayne Mobley and John Palmer have all lasted four or less seasons at the school. Now with the hiring of Scargle, hopes are the school has found a coach that will be able to provide some stability in remaining the lead man.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.