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When Strawberry Crest coach Todd Donohoe looks around, he wonders:
What is not to like?
He has a new field, new uniforms, polite kids who he says still open the doors for him, young talent, a great coaching staff, supportive fans and a smoke machine and tunnel to usher his players onto the field Friday nights.
And, his first real win.
Apparently no one told the Chargers they are scheduled for homecoming for a reason. Last week, the Chargers beat St. Petersburg Catholic 45-44, their first win over a program that wasn’t either smaller or younger.
Tonight, they are homecoming guests at Middleton.
“That’s the way (we get scheduled),” he said, chuckling.
The Chargers may not be ready to make a playoff run this year — shhhhh, don’t tell them that — but they have enough young talent (like freshman quarterback Trey VanDeGrift) to think that day is quickly approaching.
For Donohoe, things couldn’t be any sweeter. At his last stop as head coach, his last Dunedin team in 1998 went 0-10. If anyone can sympathize with Leto’s current predicament, it’s Donohoe — his outmanned Falcons were outscored 421-35.
He was just a kid then, all of 26 years old when he took the job, and after he left in ’98 he assisted at Largo, Clearwater and Armwood, where he was the strength and conditioning coach for four seasons before landing the Crest job.
What he learned? Hire a great staff. In fact, most of his are former Hawk assistants and players.
“When I was at Dunedin I coached offense, defense, special teams … I did it all because I wanted to know it was done right,” Donohoe said. “It was too much. Now I know, it’s all about the staff. When you have a great staff, you can build.”
With so many Hawks on his staff, something like missing the playoffs, no matter how old your program is, doesn’t sit well. Last year was the first time the majority of his staff paid their way into games Thanksgiving weekend.
“We want to be there,” Donohoe said. “Right now, we’re just trying to stay under the radar and shock them all.”