Turns out Hernando High won’t be in the market for a new head football coach after all. A week after Bill Vonada said he wouldn’t be back with the Leopards after three seasons, the school announced his return.
“We’re going to just do everything we can to move forward and put together the best program we can for the coming year,” Vonada said.
Out of respect to his players, Vonada declined to go into specific details about the chain of events that led him to temporarily leave the program.
On Nov. 15, footballscoop.com, a national website devoted to providing information on coaching jobs, reported that, “Per source, head coach William Vonada has been relieved of his duties.”
Later that day, Vonada emailed a statement to several local media outlets, indicating that he was essentially being forced out of his position.
“I have recently been told by our school leadership that I have done a good job getting the football program at HHS to this critical building stage, but that there is doubt that I am the person to take it to the next stage,” Vonada wrote. “I have been asked to take a role as an assistant coach or consultant to a new coach, someone who is not currently part of our staff. I have respectfully declined this offer, as I do not believe it is in the best interest of either my family or the team.”
However, in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times the next day, principal Leechele Booker said Vonada’s resignation was premature and that she hoped to work with the veteran coach to resolve the situation.
Those efforts proved successful, and thus Vonada will remain with the Leopards for the foreseeable future. The rebuilding team went 4-5 this season after back-to-back three-win campaigns under Vonada, who went 80-74 as headman at Springstead from 1998-2012.
One key issue during Vonada’s tenure at Hernando has been working with a short-handed coaching staff. Vonada said he believes there will be some additions made to the staff within the next few weeks.
“At the end of the season, you look back and reflect on what you can do better. The administration does that, as well,” Vonada said. “The staff is excited about the progress we’ve made. At the end of the season we were starting to click and play pretty well for a team as young as we are.
“The few players we met with were very happy that we got it settled. There were a lot of devastated kids when it looked like the coaching staff was undergoing changes. They seemed very happy that we’re still intact and we’re moving forward together.”
Due to the Thanksgiving break, it was a short week of sports action in the county. In girls basketball, Nature Coast notched its first win of the season after an 0-3 start, defeating Weeki Wachee, 46-36 on Tuesday night. The Lady Hornets, who lost to Bishop McLaughlin, 37-34, on Monday, fell to 3-3 overall and 1-1 in Class 6A, District 7.
On the boys side, Nature Coast opened its season with a 72-19 triumph over Weeki Wachee on Tuesday, while Central began with a 65-62 win over 6A-7 rival Citrus.
Springstead started off with a 75-24 victory over Fivay on Monday before a 64-54 loss to Land O’ Lakes the next night. Junior guard Jeffery Cotnoir averaged 12.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocks over the two games. Sophomore Sincere Torain is contributing 11.0 points, 4.0 steals and 2.5 assists.
Weeki Wachee’s girls soccer team downed Central on Monday, 2-1, improving to 4-4-1 while the Lady Bears dropped to 2-5. Reilley Bain and Lauren Mullen scored a goal apiece for the Lady Hornets.
Nature Coast’s boys topped Central on Monday, 6-0, to go to 3-3-1 on the season. The Bears fell to 0-5.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.