A Pasco County coaching legend is stepping down but not leaving entirely.
Mitchell High School football coach Scott Schmitz told The Tampa Tribune on Friday morning that — after a 36 years in coaching — he is retiring from the program he started in 2000.
“It was just time,” said Schmitz, the longest-tenured football coach in Pasco. “I’m still going to be their biggest fan. I’m still going to be at games because this program has a special place in my heart. ... I still want the best for them, but this idea had been floating around in my head for a few weeks now, and this is about devoting more time to myself, my family — I have granddaughters, and I want to spend more time with them.
“But its been a great ride.”
Schmitz, 58, said he plans to continue teaching at Mitchell two or three more years before he and his wife of 38 years “retire to the golf course.”
“There’s been a lot of kids over the years and I always put them first,” Schmitz said. “And I still want every chance for them and the new kids to be successful at football and school, but I’m going to miss that locker room and Friday nights. If you’ve ever been in a locker room or on the sideline on Friday, then you know what I’m talking about.”
his isn’t the first time Schmitz has left Mitchell’s football program. In 2008, Schmitz “resigned” from the position because of issues at the school at the time. Brian Wachtel, now the Land O’ Lakes High football coach, was brought in for two seasons but was asked to step down in December 2010. Schmitz would return to the position thanks to longtime friend and Mitchell Principal Jim Michaels.
“I”ve enjoyed the past three seasons,” said Schmitz, who went 18-12 in his second stint. “Everyone has been very supportive of this decision, and I’m thankful for that because I’m always going to be a Mustang.”
Prior to coming to Mitchell, Schmitz was hired at River Ridge in 1990 by Michaels, who was athletic director at the time, to also start the football program. He went 43-51 and reached the postseason three times in nine seasons. Schmitz was also a high school football head coach in Illinois for seven years before moving to Pasco and taking an assistant coaching position at Ridgewood for six seasons (1985-90).
Schmitz was 57-63 in 12 seasons at Mitchell, including reaching the playoffs three straight years from 2002 to 2004. He has a 100-114 career record in Pasco County.
Even when Schmitz was away from coaching football for two seasons, he was never far away. Schmitz, who not only attended every game Friday night, was also the girls golf coach, which included taking the team to the state tournament in 2009.
Schmitz said he told his players, Michaels and athletic director Ian Mooney of his decision Friday morning and that it was emotional, but the announcement was supported by those in attendance.
Schmitz said he wanted to make the administration aware of his decision as soon as possible so “they can hire someone before Christmas, if that’s what they want.”
However, there’s the possibility a Schmitz will coach Mitchell next year. Scott’s son, Andy, is a football assistant with the team and will likely apply for the job.