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Five Cobras quit after an 0-3 start

Coach Terry Voyles is unsure if he will return for a fifth season.

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002

HUDSON -- Terry Voyles calls it "a bad week." That is an understatement.

Five players quit the team Wednesday, including part-time quarterback Shannon Eva, and the Hudson coach believes his job security depends on how well the 0-3 Cobras perform from here on out.

Parents have called for his ouster, Voyles said, while others voiced their support for him after Hudson lost two close games. The first was a 20-12 loss to Ridgewood in the Sept. 6 season-opener, the second a 3-0 overtime loss to River Ridge last week. Hudson was blown out 41-7 by Zephyrhills on Sept. 20.

"I think there were some people unhappy with my play calling," Voyles said, "and I think it's parents more than players."

Voyles said he met with principal William Wright this week to discuss the program's direction.

"I had a meeting with the principal, and we worked things out," Voyles said. "He was supportive."

If that isn't enough to deal with, the Cobras were already reeling from a rash of injuries while in search of their first win in tonight's Class 3A, District 7 road game against Hernando at Tom Fisher Stadium.

"I think we're under the gun to win," Voyles said. "I feel better now then I did two or three days ago. I feel (my job) depends on how well the kids play the rest of the year. If they play well and show themselves well, I should be okay."

The players who left are: Shannon Eva, who split time at quarterback with Josh Bunting and starts at defensive back; Kenny Eva, a fullback who has been hobbled by ankle and back injuries this season; Wade Exum, a third-string fullback; Brian Dimango, a reserve lineman; and Sean Gall, a lineman who Voyles said may change his mind. Voyles said he tried to convince the players to return to the team.

"I don't want to sound like I'm making excuses," Voyles said. "They just weren't happy with me and they decided they're going to go off on their own."

Voyles said it has been a difficult time for him personally and professionally.

"I was really demoralized," he said. "I put a lot of time and effort and I love my kids dearly, but I when they turn on you a little bit it hurts. Nothing I can do can change the way they feel. If there was a way to do it, I would do it.

"I'm going to go on with my life. I know football and I know my players aren't always happy with me all the time, but I think they're as happy as any other team.

"We're going to go on and we're going to do the best we can."

Voyles said he believed Kenny Eva, who has battled injuries since last season, is better off concentrating on baseball. But Shannon Eva was one of the team's top athletes and provided a spark at quarterback, a departure that left the Cobras "in disarray," Voyles said.

"Shannon, that was our biggest loss," Voyles said. "We were working him in to be a major cog in our offense. We were working on some plays where he ran the option. We have to rethink what we're doing now.

"But on the positive side, we no longer have a quarterback controversy. We're going with Josh Bunting."

Strong safety and leading tackler Brian Kirby is questionable tonight with a groin pull, and wide receiver Drew Woodall is out with an injured jaw. That leaves Mark Baker as the lone wideout on a team down to 28 players.

Voyles is 10-23 in four seasons since he was hired at Hudson in 1999. He described this week as the low point of his career at the school and is unsure if he will coach the Cobras for a fifth season.

"I feel I've done the right things for the program, but the principal has to make that decision," he said. "I work hard for the kids, trying to get them into college. I work hard to try and bring character to our team and I work hard to bring good things to our school.

"But unfortunately, even in high school football, it becomes wins and losses. It shouldn't be that way, but that's the way it is."

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