Land O'Lakes High School will be without football coach Matt Kitchie tonight, and possibly forever.
Pasco County School Board spokesperson Summer Romagnoli confirmed Friday that Kitchie will not be on the sidelines tonight for the Gators' final regular-season contest.
"Matt Kitchie, (defensive coordinator) Jason Hatcher and cheerleading coach Celisa Cook have all been relieved of their duties for the rest of the season,'' Romagnoli said. It is unclear whether she means just for the regular season, or the entire playoff run as well, but principal Ric Mellin said early Friday evening that Kitchie was not fired, but "there is an indefinite suspension.''
Mellin said there is no timetable to determine if or when Kitchie will return. The Gators, 8-1 on the season, travel to No.1 Jefferson next week in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs.
Mellin named offensive line coach Jason Corcoran as the interim coach.
In a prepared statement issued earlier it the day, Mellin said "We're confident in the new coaches' ability to move the team forward with competence, character, integrity and enthusiasm. The entire school will be doing everything in its power to ensure a seamless transition for students and will work to ensure that its athletic programs continue to serve as a valuable enhancement of the educational experiences students receive.''
Kitchie, who is 17-3 in two seasons at Land O'Lakes, confirmed that he and Hatcher had been suspended "indefinitely". He did not think he had been fired. He wouldn't comment any further.
Romagnoli said the suspension is the result of an incident that involved a student.
The Gators will also be without standout quarterback Stevie Weatherford tonight. Weatherford was told earlier in the week he wouldn't be playing Friday to avoid injury, but when Kitchie was asked if the USF commitment was sitting out for health reasons or something related to Kitchie's suspension, Kitchie again declined comment. It is unknown if Weatherford will play next week against Jefferson.