Friday Five

Around the Area

Weeki Wachee Hits a Homerun with a Familiar Face 

Prior to 2012, Jon Malandrucco had no connection to Hernando County whatsoever. The Bartram Trail alum finished his football career at McKendree University and returned home to St. Augustine to figure out what was next. He started looking into coaching opportunities and connected with Mark Lee. Lee, who is currently the athletic director at Hernando, had once coached at Bartram Trail and recognized the last name. Lee pitched Malandrucco on helping build the young Weeki Wachee program. Armed with little more than his two college degrees, Malandrucco decided to take a leap of faith. He had no car, no place to live, and had yet to find a job. Lee hosted Malandrucco during spring football allowing him to get to know the area and secure his teaching certificate in social studies. Everything came together. He officially started his teaching and coaching career in 2012. His energy and passion for sports allowed him to quickly develop into one of the area’s best defensive coordinators and track coaches. Weeki Wachee went 0-10 this past season while Malandrucco was leading Parrott Middle School back to an undefeated County Championship in his second year as a head coach. Weeki Wachee’s head coach resigned on March 11th to focus on his family, and Malandrucco’s name immediately started being tossed around. Once again, everything came together, and now ten years later, he is back where it all started. He is ready to get to work. Weeki Wachee and FIU alum Shawn O’Gorman credits Malandrucco for pushing him to be his best on the field, on the track, and in the weight room during his high school years. O’Gorman was a fixture at BCP camps and even earned some MVP hardware as a junior.

The Peach $tate Strikes Again, and Again

By now, everyone has heard about Coach Mike Coe leaving Florida powerhouse Madison County for Coffee High School in Douglas, Georgia. Well, he is now in the process of building a dynamic coaching staff at the detriment of more Florida football programs. Most recently, West Orange High School head coach Mike Granato resigned from his post with the Warriors after accepting the defensive coordinator job with the Trojans. Granato went 18-6 during his two-year stint at West Orange. Earlier this month, Blountstown head coach Beau Johnson stepped down to become Coffee High’s defensive line coach. In four years at Blountstown, Johnson went 34-10 with four playoff appearances. He led the Tigers to the 1A title game in 2019 where they lost to… Madison County. These defections to Georgia have become a regular occurrence. The question will always be, why can’t the state of Florida support football programs and pay coaches like its neighbors to the north? 

Another Ripple Effect

Dunnellon head coach Price Harris has been selected to replace Coe at Madison County. Harris is a very successful veteran coach who will keep the Cowboys in the conversation as the best team in 1A. Dunnellon has now become one of the top open jobs in the state. The Tigers are loaded with talent and will be a post-season contender if Harris’ replacement keeps things rolling.

Plant City hires Michael Clayton

Plant City announced a splash hire of their own yesterday when they announced Michael Clayton as the program’s next head coach. Clayton had a special football career as a big-time wide receiver. He won a national title at LSU in 2004 and a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2012. Clayton is a well-rounded professional with a wealth of knowledge. His hiring will certainly draw the attention of talented coaches and players alike as his experience and network are exceptional. Things could get interesting on the east side of Hillsborough County in a hurry.

247 Sports Top 100 for 2023

It’s always interesting to see where our local guys stack up in the rankings compiled by the national recruiting sites. Here is where local players are currently located in 247 Sports Top 100 for 2023.

#3 – Cormani McClain – Lake Gibson CB

#10 – Keon Keeley – Berkeley Prep EDGE

#27 – Malik Bryant – Jones LB

#46 – Troy Bowles – Jesuit LB

#66 – Cedric Baxter Jr. – Edgewater RB

#79 – Damon Wilson – Venice EDGE

#87 – Derrick LeBlanc – Kissimmee Osceola DL