BROOKSVILLE — Middle school football coaches usually don't maintain a long tenure, but when you have the success that Dwayne Mobley continuously has at Parrott Middle year after year, it is no wonder he's been a staple there for the past nine years.
With a lifetime record of 42-11, Mobley edges every other Hernando County Middle School Athletic Conference coach by at least five years and 33 victories. He has coached a lot of talent in his time at Parrott, including former Nature Coast Technical High standout tailback Rian Williams, current Nature Coast star running back Tevin Drake and Hernando High star running back Alvin Delaine.
"I really think talent and coaching go hand-in-hand," Mobley said. "You can't be successful if you don't put the kids in the situations they need to be in."
This season might be the best season the Leopards have ever had under Mobley. Undefeated at 7-0, the team outscored opponents 302-0 in those contests. After defeating Fox Chapel Middle 36-0 in the HCMSAC semifinal last week, Parrott earned what seemed like an inevitable berth in the championship game against Powell Middle Wednesday at Hernando High.
Powell coach Ron Blackwell is second in the county among active coaches in both tenure (fourth season) and wins (nine). At 4-3, his team had a solid season, but the Panthers dropped their first game against the Leopards 32-0.
On Wednesday night, it was the same old tune for Blackwell and his coaching staff in a 26-0 championship game loss. He has become very familiar with Parrott's domination with a 0-8 lifetime record against the Leopards.
"(Mobley's) got these athletes that come out and have blazing speed," Blackwell said. "Premiere running backs are always coming through that system, and he is really big on coaching defense over there too."
This season, the Leopards had a handful of very talented players who keep them strong on both sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Tyrail Hawkins added a dimension that most teams never see at the middle school level, a signal caller who can throw the ball. Hawkins was by far the county leader in passing yards and touchdown passes, and his speed allowed him to scramble outside of the pocket.
Defensively, Parrott supplied a team effort, but captain Darren Hambrick was always around the ball leading the charge from his linebacker position. O'Mar Hawkins and Jeremiah Jackson, who both contributed superbly on offense, also came up big on the defensive front.
"The defense has done very well this season," Mobley said. "This group that's coming through right now has only begun to tap their potential."
There has been some talk over the past couple of years that the county might be better served getting rid of football on the middle school level. The emergence of local youth football and the fact that there is no middle school football in either Pasco or Citrus counties has the administrations questioning whether it is necessary.
This is the first season the coaches in Hernando County got together and decided on a new playoff-style format for the championship, and so far, everyone seems to like it. Mobley, who has built quite a legacy in close to a decade at Parrott, has a unique view on these topics.
"We need middle school sports, period," Mobley said. "(The new format) gives the kids something to work for, but just coming out to play in the first place can keep them in school and out of trouble."
Along with coaches like longtime defensive coordinator Tavin Brown, special teams coach Walter Moore, defensive line coach and former Kansas State standout Andrew Timmons, linebackers coach Clarence Clark and running backs coach Dan Oliver, Mobley connects with his team. That's what drives Parrott's success and that's what has driven his longevity.
"If you show that you're there for the kids, you can do a lot," Mobley said. "I am just blessed that they come out and play for me."