One week after filling the retiring Joe Zaccheo’s soon-to-be vacated post of athletic director in Tom Duffin, Monsignor Pace High School filled the other opening left by Zaccheo, that of its new head football coach.
The Spartans named long-time Plantation American Heritage assistant Mario Perez as their new head coach on Monday afternoon. Perez began his coaching career at Heritage in 2008 before eventually assuming the role as the team’s offensive coordinator under then-head coach Mike Rumph in 2013 and continued in that role when Patrick Surtain took over in 2016.
He helped lead the Patriots to four state championships over the next five years before Heritage saw that run come to an end last Friday night with a 35-7 loss to Cardinal Gibbons in a Region 4-5A final.
“For the last 11 years I have been a part of the American Heritage family and was truly blessed to have coached there,” Perez said. “It will always be a special place to me. However, I have been presented with what I believe is an opportunity at Monsignor Pace that I just could not refuse. I’m excited and anxious to be taking over a program that is a perennial power and want to personally thank the administration at the school for this opportunity and I’m anxious to get to work.”
Pace started the 2018 season fast but struggled down the stretch, finishing 5-5 and then suffering a 27-14 first-round playoff loss to Gulliver. Zaccheo had already decided before the season started that this would be his last year as both the coach and AD.
“We’re very excited to welcome Coach Perez to the Monsignor Pace high school athletic family,” said Duffin, who headed up the selection committee. “We are excited as well to keep the strong football tradition here at Pace alive as we move forward into the future of state championship caliber football for this program.”