WESLEY CHAPEL — There could be a lot of lost love in this matchup.
When the Hudson High football team faces Wiregrass Ranch tonight at 7:30, it will not only line up two programs that have recently turned 180s, but it will turn, albeit briefly, a husband and wife against each other, making temporary rivals for a few hours.
Hudson coach Mark Kantor will face the team his wife, Bulls teacher and volleyball coach Mindy Kantor, will be backing Friday night.
It’s a game they’ve both looked forward to, but they have avoided thinking about what the outcome could be.
“We’ve never talked about it, because it’s a delicate situation,” Mark said. “I’ve told her that she should root for her team, because those are the kids she sees every day.”
“It’s a family rivalry, and I’ve always supported him, but I am rooting for Wiregrass,” Mindy said. “But inside, I’m also hoping he does well.”
Hudson (1-0) hasn’t had a problem doing well since Kantor took over in March, 2012.
Not only did he improve roster numbers, but the team snapped a 20-plus-game losing streak, which is similar to what Wiregrass Ranch (1-0) has done since Mike Lawrence took over in December. The Bulls snapped a 22-game losing streak last week with a win against Gulf.
“I think it starts with leadership — guys you can build success around,” Kantor said. “I was glad to see them give Mike Lawrence a chance, because you can see the kids responding to him. You don’t want to see football teams struggle and not be in it for the kids. Mike’s in it for the kids, just like we are at Hudson.”
“Its good to see my school doing well and then good to see Hudson doing that, too, because it makes for a happy home with my husband,” Mindy said. “When Hudson came to him to hire him, I told him to go for it and that he had nothing to lose. I’m really happy for him.”
This isn’t the first time Mark and Mindy have been on different sidelines.
Back when Kantor was Gaither’s football coach, there was a time Wiregrass volleyball faced the Cowboys as district opponents. Then, more love was lost.
“I booed her,” Mark said flatly. “People think I was mean, but you have to support the team of where you’re at.”
So, it seems, that team colors run thicker than blood.
“I could return the boos, but I won’t,” said Mindy, who has also coached at Nature Coast and Hernando. “I’m going to support my boys that I coach and teach — they’re my boys, like my other kids.”
Even though Mindy is a Special Education teacher, she works with many football players through support facilitation, helping them with English and math.
She just wants the competition during the game to go well, still knowing that the outcome only affects conference standings, and neither of the teams’ playoff chances.
“Both teams are 1-0, so it should be a good game,” she said.
“One of us will come out at 2-0 at the end of the night,” Mark said. “The pressure is on us coaches and teams. I know both of us are going to try hard to keep our season spotless.”
But if there’s one person involved in this family rivalry in which no love will be lost, it’s Mark and Mindy’s only son, 4-year-old C.J.
After all, his prediction for tonight sums it up perfectly.
“Daddy’s school will win,” C.J. said without hesitation, but then gave it a thought for a moment. “Um, no, I think Mommy’s school will win.”
PREDICTION: All seven correspondents who cover Pasco County football — Mike Camunas, Andy Villamarzo, Bart O’Connell, Kyle LoJacono, Steve Campbell, Kenny Sanders and Chris Errington — pick Wiregrass Ranch to defeat Hudson.
Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.