Reggie Roberts out as Zephyrhills football coach
Zephyrhills’ Reggie Roberts confirmed Monday night that he is no longer the head football coach at the school.
According to Roberts, principal Angie Stone informed him Monday morning that she wanted a full-time, on-campus coach because there is a physical education position opening now that athletic director and former baseball coach Bruce Cimorelli has retired.
“I was truly, definitely surprised,” said Roberts, who is a detective sergeant with the Zephyrhills Police Department.
Stone declined comment, saying she would talk to media on Tuesday.
Roberts went 39-23 in his six seasons and guided the Bulldogs to the playoffs as district runners-up each of the past two seasons.
Roberts graduated from Zephyrhills in 1990. After playing linebacker at Bethune Cookman, Roberts went into law enforcement. He served as a volunteer assistant at New Smyrna Beach (1995) and Orlando Evans (2001-03).
When Roberts was hired to take over the Bulldogs in 2010, he brought stability back to a program that went through three head coaches during a tumultuous 2009 season following the retirement of longtime coach Tom Fisher.
After going 3-7 his first season, Roberts never had another losing record during the remainder of his tenure. The playoff appearances the past two seasons were the program’s first since 2006. This year, Bulldogs running back Antwione Sims also set the school record for rushing yards in a season with 2,093 yards. And the Bulldogs beat rival Pasco for the first time since 2007 in the 9-Mile War.
The move angered assistant coaches and players, many of whom took to social media to voice their displeasure.
Defensive coordinator Booker Pickett voiced his support of Roberts on Facebook. "This man sacrificed a lot to move back to (Zephyrhills) to mentor and coach our kids, and without his leadership and guidance, so many of our children would be in a much different place," he wrote.
Sims said he is considering transferring to another school because of the decision.
“Coach Roberts was a motivational guy," he said. "He kept spirits high. He kept hope and faith rocking. Losing him is like losing half of a heart to the Zephyrhills community and football.”
Zephyrhills has a solid nucleus returning from last year and will be considered one of the favorites to win the Class 5A, District 8 title.
"We laid the groundwork,” Roberts said. “I think we're in the top 10, top 15 (in the state) on offense, we've got one of the top five running backs in the state. We return our whole defensive line, we have some running backs returning obviously. We were going to contend."