Humans are naturally resistant to change. This isn’t philosophy–it’s fact. Change is tough even for adults to experience and requires a level of maturity that doesn’t readily exist within the world of a teenager. So when it comes to team sports at the high school level, you could logically assume that consistency is a good thing–especially when it comes to the coaching aspect and its effect on the players in the program.
Two rivals in north Hillsborough are experiencing change and consistency–and they are both seemingly headed in opposite directions. While one is experiencing a four year stretch that has produced 27 wins and 15 losses, another is experiencing change (yet again) and has gone 15-25 in that same time span.
Freedom is now looking for their eighth head coach following the dismissal of Todd Donahoe last week and the school is only beginning their fifteenth year of existence. Donahoe’s four years at Freedom make him the longest-tenured coach the Patriots have had even though they went 15-25 in his four seasons. Juxtapose that with their rivals up the road in New Tampa at Wharton–who are coming off an 8-2 season under David Mitchell–who is beginning his twelfth season at the helm for the Wildcats and have gone 27-15 during the last four years.
Both schools are relatively “new” with Wharton being the oldest–albeit the school was built less than two decades ago in 1997 while Freedom’s establishment began in 2002. Ironically that season Wharton happened to make it to the state finals following their fist five seasons of losing records.
The list of athletes to leave Wharton’s program and contribute on major levels is starting to grow even if Wharton hasn’t made the postseason in a few years–2013 to be exact–but even without the postseason appearances it appears that parents and players are comfortable with the structure in place at Wharton regardless. It’s tough to say that for their rivals when the longest tenured coach only made it through one cycle of players from freshmen to seniors. This isn’t intended to be an indictment of any kind, but obviously something seems to be lost in translation at one while the other school just down the road seemingly “gets it”.
The ‘Cats have seen a couple of alumni do some big things this past season with Chase Litton phenomenal season at Marshall, Vernon Hargreaves III’s eminent draft coming this spring and Tre’ Dukes’ commitment to the hometown USF Bulls. Once of those guys that could benefit from consistency and development this upcoming season is defensive tackle, Will Dudley.
Dudley checked-in at 6-foot-1, 270-pounds at Ignite and earned himself an Xecutives Invite in the process following his performance. Dudley will be looking to add exponentially to the 20 tackles he registered last season during Wharton’s 8-2 season and if his offseason continues that way it has begun, you can expect Dudley’s name to be the next one that catches the college coaches attentions–sooner, rather than later.