Five years ago, Mark Latsko left his hometown of Gainesville for a boys basketball head coaching job at Hernando High.
Now he’s headed back, having been hired to take over as head coach on the gridiron at his alma mater, Gainesville High.
“It’s definitely a homecoming for me,” Latsko said. “I’m blessed and humbled and truly hungry about the opportunity to go back and continue the winning Gainesville has been doing the last several years.
“It’s truly a dream job for me. I’m happy in Hernando and Brooksville, but this was an opportunity I had to take.”
Latsko, who once played for the Hurricanes, takes over the team that knocked out the Leopards in last year’s state football playoffs, 60-3 in the opening round.
Gainesville went on to advance to the Class 6A state championship game, where it lost to Miami Central, 37-14.
When he arrived in Brooksville, the Leopards were coming off a 1-25 season in 2007-08. He departs having guided them to an 18-8 mark, their first winning record since 2003-04.
Over his five seasons on the Hernando bench, he compiled a 53-74 record. He had previously gone 38-27 in three years as head coach at Trenton.
“I feel like I’ve left the program in much better shape than when I inherited it, which is something I take pride in,” Latsko said.
Additionally he has become the boys weightlifting coach this season, leading the Leopards to a repeat county championship last week, and served as boys tennis coach in 2010. From 2010-12 he split athletic director duties with Kevin Bittinger.
But where he truly showed his acumen was as defensive coordinator for the Hernando football team since 2009.
While head coaches John Palmer and Dwayne Mobley leaned toward the offensive side of the ball, Latsko built the Leopard defense into one of the area’s stingiest units.
Over the last four seasons, Hernando’s opponents have averaged 15.8 points per contest, and the Leopards have advanced to the playoffs three straight years.
“I’ve done a lot of growing personally and professionally during my time in Brooksville,” Latsko said. “I have nothing but positive things to say about it.”
By the numbers: Mark Latsko with Hernando boys basketball