Seeing Mick Koczersut coach high school football under the Friday night lights is a staple to the Manatee County scene each year.
All but one season since 1994 has seen Koczersut coaching high school football in the area.
The Lakewood Ranch High head football coach ended his tenure leading the Mustangs, resigning after going 14-22 in four years, including 3-5 in 2017.
“I’ve always loved coaching football,” Koczersut said. “And being a head coach is something I just haven’t really enjoyed being. I enjoy coaching more than being a head coach.”
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Athletic director Shawn Trent said the program isn’t in a rush to fill the vacancy. Trent said he’ll sit down with principal Craig Little and figure out what teaching openings they’ll have to go as well as posting the position on the Florida High School Athletic Association’s website.
What positions will be open doesn’t necessarily dictate who the Mustangs will hire, Trent said.
“I don’t see it being a lot of fun,” Trent said. “I don’t see this being an easy thing.”
Koczersut’s son, tight end and Bradenton Herald All-Area first-team selection Mickey Koczersut, was a senior this year.
That wasn’t the defining reason Koczersut decided to step down as Lakewood Ranch High’s head coach, letting his coaching staff know of the decision Monday before telling his players Tuesday.
Rather, the time commitment geared toward things other than actual coaching and the stipend given to head coaches that hasn’t been increased by Manatee County in more than a decade are just a couple of the reasons Koczersut said played a role in his resignation.
“The coaching supplement, not just talking football but across the board, here in Manatee County haven’t changed in 13 years,” said Koczersut, who estimated it’s an additional 30 to 50 hours in season, 10 to 15 hours offseason and 25 to 30 hours in the summer per week as a head football coach. “Possibly longer.”
Koczersut also said he wasn’t happy with the FHSAA’s move to an open transfer policy that went into effect this past season.
“Sometimes you feel like you’re always fighting uphill,” Koczersut said.
A longtime area assistant coach, Koczersut began his Manatee County high school coaching career at Palmetto High in 1994.
He left the Tigers, after serving in various roles as an offensive line coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator, after the 2002 season.
After a brief move to Rochester, N.Y. for a job, Koczersut returned to Manatee County and took one year off from coaching before joining Lakewood Ranch’s staff in 2004.
From then on, he stayed content in his role as an assistant coach after being passed over for various head coaching positions.
Working under Trent, Koczersut was the Mustangs’ offensive coordinator when Trent suddenly needed to choose between being the school’s athletic director or the head football coach following a school district policy change in 2014 that didn’t allow administrators to also be head coaches.
Koczersut, who teaches at the school and coaches the girls weightlifting team, will continue in the head football coaching position until a replacement is found, though Trent said there’s no exact timetable for that to happen with spring football still four months away.
“Whoever they hire as football coach, he and I will talk if he wants to and if he’s not interested in having me on as (an assistant) coach then that’s his decision,” Koczersut said. “If he does, we’ll talk.”
Added Trent: “The one thing I’ve always said about Mick was Mick’s always done what’s best for the school and what’s best for the team.”