Tarpon Springs, hoping to revitalize its football program, hired former Sponger standout Jeremy Frioud, who stepped down as coach at Northeast in November of 2020 and spent the past year away from football.
“I came for the school and the community,” Frioud said of his alma mater.
Frioud replaces Cedric Hill, who went 5-23 in three seasons. Frioud still is a physical education teacher at Northeast and will remain in that role for the remainder of the school year. He will be a P.E. teacher at Tarpon Springs in the fall.
Since accepting the head coaching job Monday night, Frioud has been making calls to assemble a staff. He said former Northeast and USF star Auggie Sanchez will be his defensive coordinator and former Largo coach Rick Rodriguez will help out in some capacity.
The Spongers have a new turf field but have struggled to maintain any continuity with the football program. Frioud becomes the school’s fifth head coach since 2014.
One of Frioud’s first priorities is to field a junior varsity team, something Tarpon Springs has not had in the past four years.
In seven years at Northeast, Frioud went 32-35.
“I love Northeast,” Frioud said when he stepped away. “I love the kids and administration. I even love the parents. I’ve just been through way, way, way too much to heal.”
Since taking over the Vikings in 2014, Frioud had gone through multiple tragedies with players.
Eight years ago, defensive lineman Leshawn Williams, then 17, sustained a knee injury that required his leg to eventually be amputated. In August of 2018, Ruben Marcano, a 14-year-old freshman on the junior varsity team, died in an accident while at home.
But nothing compared to the pain Frioud endured in 2019.
In September of that year, Northeast running back Jacquez Welch collapsed during a game. Doctors at Bayfront Health discovered Welch had the rare arteriovenous malformation, an abnormal tangle of blood vessels and arteries that can cause bleeding on the brain if ruptured.
Days later, Welch was taken off life support and his organs were donated.
Frioud was on the field, holding Welch in his arms after he collapsed. Frioud was there in the hospital, ushering in players to say their goodbyes to a beloved teammate.
“I need to be closer to my boys,” Frioud said at the time. “I want to spend every second with my beautiful family.”
He was intent on not coaching again. But the gravitational pull at Tarpon Springs was too much to ignore.
After all, Frioud is homegrown, straight from the communities that had produced so many Tarpon Springs legends. Frioud went to Sunset Hills Elementary, the same school his two sons will attend next year.
“That was big to have my sons going to school across the street from the high school,” Frioud said. “They can be with me at practice, and at the games.
“Football has helped pave the path where I am. Tarpon Springs High and the community played a big role, too. I owe it to that community to give back and help turn this thing around.”