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Tom McHugh will remain at Pasco High School as a teacher and the athletic director but his days as the head football coach have come to an end after 12 years. McHugh would only say stepping down as head coach was not his idea. Pasco Principal Kari Kadlub declined to discuss McHugh’s ouster.

DADE CITY — One of the most successful head coaches in Pasco County prep football history will not be returning to the sidelines next season and it won’t be on his terms.

Pasco County Schools Athletic Director Matt Wicks confirmed to The Suncoast News that Pasco High School Principal Kari Kadlub will be looking for a new head coach for the Pirates for next season. Tom McHugh will remain as the school’s athletic director and a teacher. When reached, Kadlub declined to comment on McHugh’s ouster.

McHugh led the Pirates to the state semifinals in 2008 and 2010, in which Pasco came one game away from reaching the Class 3A-Class 5A state championships. A former Wesley Chapel defensive coordinator, McHugh took over the Pasco program back in 2006, after the school dismissed Dale Caparaso, now head coach at Dixie Hollins High School, in St. Petersburg, as lead man.

The last few seasons, however, have not produced the results the school was accustomed to in McHugh’s early years. The Pirates suffered four straight losing campaigns and lost four consecutive games to its 9-Mile War rival, Zephyrhills, in the process.

With Pasco’s demise came success at neighboring schools, with Zephyrhills and Zephyrhills Christian both making the playoffs in the 2018 season.

McHugh said that he was let go a day before schools let out for Thanksgiving break but stressed that he did not step down of his own accord. He had no further comment on his dismissal.

Pasco finished this past season at 2-8 and the last time the Pirates finished above the .500 mark was in 2014, at 6-4.

Now begins the long road as Pasco searches for its third head coach in just over a decade. There is a long list of potential applicants and those whom have already thrown their names into the hat. They include former Pasco assistant Michael Penix Sr., current Pasco Middle School Coach Daniel McLeod, former Ridgewood head coach and current Bishop McLaughlin offensive coordinator Jay Fulmer and numerous other names.

Whoever takes over at Pasco will assume the burden of high expectations for a program that won a state championship back in 1992. The win 26 years ago has been Pasco County’s only claim to fame when it comes to state football crowns.

The Pirates have, however, produced some NFL caliber talent in the past decade. They include cornerback Josh Johnson, a former San Diego Charger and Jacksonville Jaguar now with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats; Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Janarion Grant; and Joey Ivie, a defensive tackle with the Kansas City Chiefs.