WESLEY CHAPEL — Bouncing back from an 0-10 season is never an easy task, but if there’s a coach up to it, it’s Wesley Chapel’s Tico Hernandez.
The second-year coach has brought stability to a program that saw the departure of Ben Alford, who took a college coaching job in the midwest. Hernandez wants to see some wins this season, but is focusing on improving his student-athletes in and out of the football program.
“I think the guys have improved their level of commitment to the football program,” Hernandez said. “This past offseason, we wanted to create a group of leaders from the team and have them be mentors to the kids at the elementary school. They would go to the school and read to the kids and that taught them that it’s not all about the football field, but it’s about the community, too.”
Among the leaders that have stepped up are lineman Ryan Robinson, K’Vaughn Joyner, Alex Jacobs, wide receiver Anthony Bent and Scott Edwards, who returns as quarterback. Hernandez said the mentor program has been a big success and feels the community has taken notice. In the classroom is an area where Hernandez set as a top priority.
“Win the classroom is one of our every year goals,” Hernandez said. “Win the community is also another thing we’re very high on.”
Wesley Chapel performed well in the Pasco County 7-on-7 spring league, but Hernandez said it’s the fundamentals and finishing football games is what he has been most focused on.
“We had a pretty good 7-on-7 league outing, but when we get down to the fundamentals of football, it comes down to lining up, blocking and ball security,” Hernandez said. “In some of those games we played in last season, we just needed to finish. I believe we can play with any team. Anytime you have a program that has high expectations of making the playoffs, you have to start with defense. Our secondary is going to be real tough and our defensive line is going to bounce back.”
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.