Jeremy Shobe believes someone can turn Wiregrass Ranch’s football program around with a young roster and a new district.
He just won’t be the one to do it.
Shobe resigned Monday after four seasons as the Bulls head coach and a tenure that included the first playoff appearance in school history followed by back-to-back winless seasons.
“I think it’s the right time to do it,” Shobe said, three days after his team lost to Zephyrhills in the season finale.
Shobe said he had been thinking about stepping down for the last half of the season. He broke the news to his players Monday during a team meeting.
“He basically said in the best interest of the football program, the best thing to do would be to step aside and try to start fresh again with a new leader,” Bulls athletic director Dave Wilson said. “As much as he would love to continue, he needs to step aside for himself, too.
“It’s been a difficult challenge, especially the last two years, with the district we play and the schedule we play. The challenges have really taken a toll.”
Shobe served as the Bulls’ defensive coordinator before replacing Ricky Thomas as head coach in 2009. His tenure began well. Wiregrass Ranch finished 5-5 in his first season and made the playoffs for the first time in school history the next fall, claiming a 6-5 record and a first-round loss to Springstead.
But the Bulls struggled after that.
After being pushed into a Class 7A district with Hillsborough County heavyweights in 2011, Wiregrass Ranch went winless the next two seasons. Its brutal non-district schedule featured games against three of Pasco County’s top teams – Pasco, Sunlake and Zephyrhills – plus rival Wesley Chapel and Pinellas power Countryside.
The Bulls were outscored 801-107 over the last two seasons with only three defeats coming by less than 10 points, including Friday night’s 23-17 loss to Zephyrhills.
“Just two rough years, man…” Shobe said. “Who we play week in and week out, it’s just daunting, to say the least. It demoralizes the kids and the coaches. We did our best to hang together and finish the year out hustling, never quitting. I’m proud of the kids for that.”
Shobe will keep performing his administrative duties as coach until a successor is named. He said he plans to continue teaching physical education and coaching the boys weightlifting team and that he hopes to become a head football coach again, even if he sits out a year or two before returning.
“He really believes somebody can come in and breathe new life in the program and hopefully generate more positive things for the football program,” Wilson said. “He loves our kids. He loves our program. He’s done everything he can.”
Wilson said the school plans to wait until after Thanksgiving to advertise the position and begin actively searching for a new coach.