When Wesley Chapel needed to find its third head coach in program history, it turned to its cross-town rival.
The Wildcats plucked assistant Tico Hernandez from Wiregrass Ranch on Monday to take over a program with 11 on-the-field wins in its past three seasons.
“I’m excited about the opportunity to be a head coach,” said Hernandez, 34. “It’s a great honor to represent the school, to represent the community. I’m just thrilled Ms. (Carin) Nettles and the Wesley Chapel administration offered me the job.”
Hernandez coached the Bulls’ special teams this fall after a year as offensive coordinator. He previously served as the head coach at Long Middle School, where he remains athletic director and teaches social studies.
The Wildcats selected Hernandez, a Leto and USF graduate, out of a pool of 22 applicants. He follows John Castelamare and Ben Alford, who resigned shortly after the season to take an out-of-state job.
“Tico’s always been an enthusiastic guy,” assistant principal Tim Light said. “You could tell he was excited about it and had lots of ideas.”
Wesley Chapel finished 3-7 this fall but returns its leaders in passing yards (QB Ty Tanner), tackles (LB Nalu Fraticelli) and sacks (S Josias Vizcano).
“He set a solid foundation for the future,” Hernandez said of Alford. “I know that, watching them play, they’re tough. They’re football players. I’m looking forward to the challenges of competing.”
Hernandez is the second Bulls assistant to land a head coaching job this offseason, after Wiregrass Ranch promoted offensive coordinator Mike Lawrence to head coach following back-to-back winless seasons.
Gulf is the only Pasco County program without a head coach after the departure of Tom Carter. School officials have said they hope to fill the position before spring practice begins.