Hillsborough County's Father of Friday Night Football looks to tie wins record

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Earl Garcia is Hillsborough County's Father of Friday Night Football. 

For 45 years, Coach Garcia has been teaching life lessons to young men through the game football. For the last 25 years, he's been a fixture with the Hillsborough High Terriers.

Garcia has helped hundreds of his players land college deals and has seen many make it to the NFL, but that isn't how he measures his success.

"It's probably the only place that you can really coach and see a 14-year-old kid come in as ninth-grader and leave as an 18-year-old man," Garcia said. "For us, a kid going through our program, graduating on time, going on to become a great father, a great husband, and a great employee is just as rewarding for us as a kid that is playing in the National Football League."

The 2018-2019 season will be special for Coach Garcia, who is two wins away from tying Hillsborough County's all-time record for victories. The current record is held by the man who gave Garcia his first job in coaching, the late Billy Turner.

"I might get it," smiled Garcia. "I imagine we will, but it has nothing to do with it. I'll never surpass Coach Turner as a human being."

Garcia's Terriers will open the season against crosstown rivals Plant High School: The oldest rivalry in the state of Florida.  

There's not a coach in the area that Panthers Head Coach Robert Weiner respects more.

"It's about the lives that you've affected," said Weiner. "I go back to speak to hundreds of people that I see all the time that just tell me how their life was affected by Earl Garcia. His legacy is set in stone."

The average tenure for a high school football coach in the Bay Area is two years, which at 66 years of age, makes Coach Garcia's run legendary.

"I'm still looking forward to it, man," added Garcia. "The day that ends, I'll quit. I'll have had enough."