In moving its football program into the future, Mitchell has decided to look to its past.
Mitchell principal Jim Michaels announced today that former head coach Scott Schmitz has been hired for his second stint as the Mustangs’ football coach.
Schmitz, 55, started the Mitchell football program in 2000 and coached nine seasons (2000-08). The Mustangs made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons from 2002-04 but couldn’t advance out of the regional quarterfinals. In 2008, saying that he was “tired”, Schmitz retired as the Mustangs football coach.
“It’s hard maybe for some people to understand just the feeling, you miss the locker room, you miss the kids, you miss the practices, all these things you miss,” Schmitz said. “If you haven’t done it, you really don’t know what that is. I’ve been out of it for two years, and I miss it…I just feel fortunate that Jim and (Mitchell athletic director) Ian (Mooney) have the confidence in me to bring me back.”
Prior to coming to Mitchell, Schmitz also started the football program at River Ridge, going 43-51 and reaching the postseason three times in nine seasons. He was hired at River Ridge by then athletic director Jim Michaels, who is now the principal at Mitchell.
Michaels has hired Schmitz to head up his football program three separate times now, first in 1991 at River Ridge and again in 2000 to start up the Mitchell program.
“He has great experience, and he’s had some very good success,” Michaels said. “He’s built two pretty good programs. River Ridge when he left it was in pretty good shape, and Mitchell had some good years after he built it from its infancy. He’s a very good person. He’s very involved in the school, and he’s very involved with the kids.”
Schmitz spent the past two seasons as Mitchell’s girls golf coach and was named coach of the year by the Sunshine Athletic Conference and the St. Petersburg Times both seasons. In his first year (2009), he guided the Mustangs to district and regional titles and their first state finals appearance since 2004. This fall, he led Mitchell to a spot in the regional tournament field. The Mustangs won SAC titles in both seasons.
“The girls were great. They worked very hard, and I enjoyed it,” Schmitz said. “It was a little difficult to give that up, but football has been my love for 33 years as a coach. When the opportunity came up, I realized how much I missed it and wanted to get back to it. It wasn’t a difficult decision to apply for the job and get back into football. It was a difficult decision to leave the girls.”
Schmitz replaces Brian Wachtel, who went 13-7 in two seasons but was dismissed following a 5-5 season in 2010. “We decided to go in a different direction,” Michaels said at the time. Wachtel was hired to be the new head football coach at Land O'Lakes on Friday.
Schmitz, who was a high school football head coach in Illinois for seven years before moving to Pasco County and taking an assistant coaching position at Ridgewood for six seasons (1985-90), was selected ahead of finalists Jason Messamore, an assistant at East Lake, and Mike Lawrence, an assistant at Dunedin.
“Scott probably left (football) a couple years ago before his time,” Michaels said. “Over the last couple of years, he decided it was something he really wants to do again with a new start.”