For the second consecutive offseason, the Leesville football program will experience a head coaching change.
Mike Hobgood, who came to Leesville from South Granville High in May 2014 and went 5-7 in his first and only season as head coach, has been removed from his position as of Friday afternoon.
Hobgood told the News & Observer that Leesville administration had told him “it wasn’t a good fit.”
“I’d like to coach somewhere whether it’s as an assistant or head coach,” he added. “I’ll just take my time and see what’s out there.”
The Mycenaean reached out directly on Friday to Hobgood and Jack Rogers, athletic director, for comment, but neither has yet responded.
“I think it’s best for Leesville as a program to hire a new coach,” said Trey Keeney, a graduating senior tight end, to The Mycenaean via Twitter on Friday. “Hobgood did his job his own way, [but] some criticized him for it.”
Hobgood was dealt a difficult hand in his debut season, having to deal with the major departures of longtime stars Braxton Berrios (who caught three touchdowns during his freshman season at the University of Miami) and Malcolm Hitchcock (now playing at Louisburg College).
The team overcame an up-and-down start to win three consecutive Cap-8 conference games and boast a 5-3 overall record by Oct. 17. However, a tough closing schedule led to four straight losses, including twice to eventual state championship runner-up Wake Forest, to end the season. It was Leesville Football’s first season with a losing record since 2005.
After falling 42-13 in the first round of the playoffs on Nov. 15, Hobgood expressed optimism about the future of the program heading into 2015. “We’re losing a lot of good skill players, but we have a lot of linemen coming back…I’d always rather have it that way,” he told the Mycenaean. “I think the lines will be a strength.”
But the former UNC lineman evidently won’t be around for the 2015 campaign after all.
Leesville is expected to name its third head coach in an 18-month span — highly successful former coach Chad Smothers left to become Knightdale High AD after the 2013 season — sometime later this winter or spring.
Returning players, however, are already looking forward to next autumn regardless of the current uncertainty. “Regardless of who the coach is, we’re going to be ready to play come week 1,” said Matt Hamilton, sophomore receiver, via text Friday.
Said Keeney, “I think every senior would agree we should of had a better season. [However], if Leesville stays in the weight room then they will have a bright future. [There are] a lot of underclassmen ready to shine.”