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Losing seasons tough to ignore

Intense. Knowledgeable. A passion for the game. All attributes voiced by area coaches and players about outgoing Pasco football coach Dale Caparaso.

So why is he gone?

Most likely because in this football-crazed east Pasco city that boasts the county's lone state champion (1992), Caparaso's four-year legacy came down to more than Xs and Os.

It's all about the Ws - or lack thereof.

The Pirates made the playoffs in Caparaso's first two seasons before the bottom fell out. Following last year's 2-8 debacle, Pasco went 3-7 this season.

Caparaso, who won four state titles in 12 seasons at Bellingham, Mass., finished 20-21 at Pasco.

"I think he was a good coach and a good leader while he was here, but we're in a football town and going 2-8 and 3-7. ..." said senior Todd Jeter, an offensive lineman and linebacker. "When you lose, everybody wants change. Everyone's expecting to win."

Land O'Lakes football coach John Benedetto concurred.

"I guess at Pasco High School if they feel your record isn't up to their standards they're going to fire you," Benedetto said.

Like Jeter, Cameron Pope, a standout two-way lineman, played all four seasons under Caparaso. Pope welcomed Caparaso's fiery temperament.

"He was a very aggressive coach that demanded a lot from you," Pope said. "He wanted you to do your best. He challenged you all the time."

A post-game skirmish after Pasco's Sept. 22 loss at Land O'Lakes resulted in players from both schools being disciplined. Pope said Caparaso did not single out his players and made the entire team do community service by picking up trash around the Dade City campus.

"That was handled to perfection," Pope said.

Pasco's football program has had its share of discipline issues and there are various views on how Caparaso handled things.

"He was kind of lenient," Pope said. "He gives a lot of second chances."

Added Ricky Giles, Pasco's baseball coach and a longtime football assistant before taking this season off: "When the man had discipline problems he tried to work it out. He would give some (players) an extra chance. I probably wouldn't have."

Contact Steve Lee at lee@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6517.

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