Friday, Aug 01, 2014
Nature Coast

Liggett stepping away from Sharks

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For the second week in a row, a Hernando County football head coaching job has opened up.

After Central and Mike Einspahr mutually parted ways last week, Nature Coast announced on Tuesday that Charles Liggett has resigned, leaving the program after three seasons as headman and 10 on the coaching staff.

"It's something I've held close to my vest for several weeks," Liggett said. "I didn't want any thoughts I had about moving on to cause any problems with the players.

"My whole family is involved in what I do. My wife does a lot for me. There were some things away from the playing field that were troublesome, that caused some concern."

On Friday the Sharks finished their season at 4-6, their first losing mark since 2005. They had gone 6-4 the previous two years under Liggett, including a 2011 forfeit victory over Land O' Lakes, who had originally won the game but used an ineligible player.

Officially, Liggett ends his Nature Coast tenure at 16-14.

"I'm my own worst critic," Liggett said. "When I look at my 18 years of coaching and look at how we did the last two years, ultimately my job as head coach is to make changes and make sure our kids are always in the right place.

"I was at a point where I couldn't look down the line and see me being the guy able to make that change. In three years we've looked very similar as a team. I couldn't see me being able to make the changes we needed to do to make it work."

The Sharks were hit hard by graduation, most notably losing running back Matt Breida, the 2012 Hernando Today Player of the Year who signed with Georgia Southern.

They also lost the backbone of their defense, All-County linebackers Josh Benyola and Joey Berrios.

Though a stunning 29-28 win at Pasco on Sept. 27 buoyed hopes, Nature Coast dropped its next four to fall out of playoff contention.

Still, Athletic Director Kristin Peeples made it clear that the administration wasn't responding to on-field struggles, and that Liggett made his own choice.

"Our GPA as a team under his leadership went up, the character of our team under his leadership went up, the discipline (issues) went down under his leadership," Peeples said. "We want to continue with that and go in the right direction. We feel he's going to be very difficult to replace.

"I personally think he's one of the top-notch guys around the community and in the coaching world. He did his job well. If I could change his mind, I would."

Liggett became the Sharks' defensive coordinator in 2004 - their second season of existence and first at the varsity level - and was an assistant head coach under Jamie Joyner.

A former All-State placekicker at Chattahoochee High (later merged into West Gadsden High) in the Florida Panhandle, he had previously spent four years apiece as an assistant coach at two schools in Virginia.

Initially passed over as Joyner's replacement in 2009, Liggett remained defensive coordinator for both Mark Lee that year and Mark Nash in 2010.

When Nash stepped down after just one season, Liggett's opportunity finally arrived.

Though the results weren't what he had hoped, and the Sharks haven't returned to the playoffs since 2009, Liggett enjoyed the interaction with his players.

"The kids are great," Liggett said. "They were definitely the bright spot in this whole thing."

Peeples said the school will post the vacancy on Wednesday, and the hope is to have a new coach in place prior to boys weightlifting season. To that end, Liggett won't be returning for a seventh season guiding the Sharks in that sport.

Liggett does remain an American history teacher at Nature Coast. However, he made it clear he intends to find another coaching job next season.

Though he would take on head-coaching duties elsewhere if the right opportunity arose, he indicated that he'd be willing to return to an assistant's role.

"Football is what I do," Liggett said. "My whole family, it's our life. It's what we've done for 18 years. I'll be coaching somewhere.

'The team is young. It's probably the best time for me to make a change and for the kids it's a good time to make a change for them."

cbernhardt@hernandotoday.com

(352) 544-5288

By the numbers: Charles Liggett at NCT

Year Record

2011 6-4*

2012 6-4

2013 4-6

Totals 16-14

* Denotes win by forfeit

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