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Hernando assistant Mark Latsko named Gainesville football coach

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Thu. March 21, 2013 | Matt Baker | Email

Hernando assistant Mark Latsko is headed home.

The Leopards defensive coordinator confirmed Thursday that he will be the next head football coach at Gainesville High, his alma mater.

“It’s a little bit of a homecoming for me,” Latsko said. “I’m excited, and I’m ready to go get to work and keep that train that they’ve been riding still going along.”

Latsko is also the Leopards’ boys basketball coach, weightlifting coach and formerly served as the school’s co-athletic director but has never been a head football coach before.

But he couldn’t turn down the chance to lead the Class 6A runner-up and his alma mater. He graduated from Gainesville in 1999 before attending Florida.

“Hes going home, man, and that’s a dream job,” Leopards athletic director Kevin Bittinger said. “He’s absolutely ready.”

He was the coordinator for one of the North Suncoast’s top defenses and helped Hernando reach the playoffs in three consecutive seasons. The Leopards allowed more than 13 points in only one district game this fall. In 2011, Hernando didn’t allow more than two touchdowns in any district game.

Gainesville ended Hernando’s season each of the last two years in the first round of the playoffs.

Latsko’s basketball team finished 18-8 this season with their most victories in more than a decade. Bittinger said the school will try to fill his position “as soon as we can” and will look for basketball coaches who could also serve as football assistants.

“Those are huge shoes to fill at Hernando High School,” Bittinger said. “We all know that.”

Latsko and Hernando haven’t decided on a final day, but he plans to take any weightlifting qualifiers to state.

“I truly loved my time at Brooksville and Hernando High School,” Latsko said. “This was an opportunity for me to go back home.”

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