Burried beneath the mound of attention generated by three North Suncoast do-or-die games is a truly sad story line.
Wesley Chapel coach John Castelamare could very well be coaching his final high school game Friday when the Wildcats host Gulf.
Castelamare, who has been a teacher for 38 years, is enrolled in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, which once served as a financial incentive to get teachers to retire within five years.
"I want to stay," Castelamare said Thursday. "I had planned to stay and get an extension."
When there was a shortage of teachers a few years ago, Pasco County Schools allowed teachers to remain in drop for an additional three years. But in the wake of the nation's recession and Pasco County's own budget woes, extensions were no longer granted.
In March, Pasco County superintendent Heather Fiorentino said she would no longer grant retirement extensions after more than 60 educators were denied DROP extensions. Fiorentino ultimately decides who gets extended in the DROP program.
Her decision ended the career of former Land O'Lakes coach John Benedetto after more than 30 seasons.
Castelamare said he will continue to pursue an extension before his time in the DROP program ends in August, he said. A decision on an extension is not expected until January at the earliest, Wesley Chapel athletic director Steve Mumaw said.
Don't expect any fanfare of ceremonies Friday for Castelamare. Mumaw said none are planned in lue of Castelamare's fight to remain at Wesley Chapel where he teaches physical education and started the football program in 1999.
Mumaw said Castelamare would remain the head coach if his DROP request is extended.
"He's done a fine job for us," Mumaw said. "I don't see us changing that position as long as he has a teaching position as well."