JASPER, Fla. — For the third straight year, Hamilton County High School is searching for a new football coach.
Richard Vester resigned after one season at the helm of the Trojans on Tuesday. HCHS went 1-9 last fall, the third straight one-win season for the Trojans, who have had four head coaches in that time.
“It’s with many mixed emotions I am stepping down as head football coach and athletic director at Hamilton County High School,” Vester posted on social media, thanking administrators and Hamilton County fans and residents for their support.
Vester’s wife, Lesli, passed away in January after being injured in an accident last fall. She was also a teacher in the Hamilton County School District.
“Coach Vester, he wanted to be that person,” Superintendent of Schools Rex Mitchell said, adding that consistency and stability are what the school district needs now for the program. “Just the different events that have gone on in his life, we appreciate all that he’s done for us.
“We just look forward to continue moving forward.”
Vester was hired in December 2018 following a tumultuous 2018 season. Ric Whittington, who was hired in March 2018, resigned the week before the Trojans’ preseason classic game. Doug Clayton then served as interim coach for the 2018 season in which HCHS went 1-8.
The Trojans also won just one game in 2017, the final year of Seth Stebbins’ three-year tenure.
Despite the recent struggles, Mitchell is optimistic about the future of HCHS football with the right coach at the helm.
“We’ve just changed coaches a lot here the last few years,” he said. “We’re just looking for consistency, the stability and get the program back. We’ve proven in the past that we can be competitive and we just want to work it back there.
“It has such a positive impact on the whole school. There’s so many parts related to it with cheerleaders, the fans, the band and all the stuff that goes along with it. It’s important to the school.
“I think this thing can be turned around quickly with the right person at the helm. And it will be a priority for us.”
The Trojans did play for the Class 1A state championship in 2014.
The district has already posted the job opening, which must be up for at least two weeks. Mitchell said the plan is to move swiftly in the search, so the new coach can get into the school and be ready to lead the Trojans through spring practice.
“We’re going to … find the right person to lead us,” Mitchell said.