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New Brooksville High School football coach the right choice to lead team

Dwayne Mobley, the varsity football coach at Hernando High School, played for the team in the early 1990s and coached for 12 years at Parrott Middle School.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Dwayne Mobley, the varsity football coach at Hernando High School, played for the team in the early 1990s and coached for 12 years at Parrott Middle School.

Dwayne Mobley belongs on the sidelines of Tom Fisher Stadium like purple and gold on Hernando High football uniforms.

Mobley, 38, looks as good here as the old oaks growing just beyond each end zone.

He fits like an Augusta Block in one of Brooksville's red-brick streets, like eternal booster Julia Jinkens behind the counter of the concession stand.

It's his rightful place, this sideline, like a football in the hands of a quarterback — and running back, and kick returner, and receiver and cornerback — Tyrail Hawkins.

Monday will be the team's first day of practice with Mobley as head coach and a roster loaded with returning stars such as Hawkins and Darren Hambrick.

The team might even turn out to be as good as the one in 1991, when Mobley looked like a grown man suited up against youth league players, when he led the state in scoring and would have led Hernando to an undefeated regular season if not for a Pasco High team that barely beat Hernando in overtime.

His past as a Leopards star is only one of Mobley's credentials for his new job and for his status as a walking local landmark.

He's from a family that's been in Hernando long enough to have a road named after it. He grew up in the county and lives here with his wife, Cheri, and their two daughters, Jane'a, 12, and Brianna, 9.

He was on the 1996 University of Florida national championship team with such players as Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Danny Wuerffel, and watched head coach Steve Spurrier at a time when he had so much control over the action, Mobley said, "it was like he was playing Nintendo."

Mobley's team won't pass as much as Spurrier's, which passed all the time. But it will have a better air attack than recent Hernando squads, he said.

"At this level, you can maybe make it through the district without doing a lot of passing. But if you want to get any further and you're facing teams as fast and athletic as you are, you're going to have to do some passing," he said.

And, yes, Mobley plans to win enough to get to that point, having done almost nothing but win in 12 years as head coach at Parrott Middle School.

So many of his teams were undefeated, he said, he can't remember the exact count. One of them — the 2008 squad, featuring many of his current players — was never scored upon.

It will help that he knows these players, that he's already earned their respect. But Mobley is also aware that playing a full schedule that includes out-of-county teams is a lot different than beating up on a handful of neighboring middle schools.

"The seasons are longer. The kids are bigger and faster," he said. "But it's still the same X's and O's. If the team executes, you should come up with the same result."

Then there's the matter of filling shoes. In the four years before resigning in May due to health problems, previous coach John Palmer turned Hernando from a perennial loser into a district champion.

The anticipation has returned. In a town as small as Brooksville and one with so few entertainment options, the sound of the marching band in the air on summer evenings makes people look forward to Friday nights in the fall.

But anticipation is the same as expectations, and if they aren't met, the many Hernando alums who still live in Brooksville will start grumbling.

Sitting in the stands near the end of last year's playoff loss to Gainesville High, you might have thought Palmer was the only person in the stadium who didn't know how to pull out a victory.

This doesn't bother Mobley, who was hired in June.

"I'm not a pressure guy," he said. "Coach Palmer was a very good coach, and he brought the program back. But I'm just going to go out and do what needs to be done. And I'm hoping to be here a long time."

That would be for the best. I mean, would you want to see the old courthouse uprooted from downtown Brooksville?

New Brooksville High School football coach the right choice to lead team 08/04/12 [Last modified: Saturday, August 4, 2012 1:21pm]
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