By: J. Daniel Pearson
Don Simon –Harmony’s longest tenured and winningest football coach in school history – has stepped down. Simon, who went 33-29 in his six years at helm and led the Longhorns to the FHSAA playoffs twice, resigned on Thursday afternoon. He will become the Athletics Director at Tohopekaliga beginning on June 1.
“I’ve been coaching high school football for 28 years and just decided it was time to step down and let the younger guys take over,” Simon said. “When I heard the Toho Athletics Director job was coming open, I made a phone call and ended up being offered the job. To tell you the truth, high school football is pretty much a 12-month a year job, I’m tired, and it was just time to move on.”
Harmony Athletic Director Dan Kerr confirmed the resignation and said that Simon’s long-time assistant Nick Lippert would assume interim coaching duties for spring football and would be given consideration for the permanent job.
“We are extremely sorry to see Coach Simon leave us,” Kerr said. “He came here in 2017 and changed the culture of Harmony football. He got the assistant coaches, players, parents, and boosters all on the same page. All his assistant coaches were working at the school and that’s something that is really hard to achieve. He made Harmony football a family.”
Simon posted .500 record or above in four of his six years. Taking over a 3-7 team, Simon posted a 6-4 record in his first year. In his second season, Harmony lost its opener before reeling off nine straight wins to earn a playoff spot. Harmony went 6-4 against a tough schedule last season, but earned an at-large playoff spot where they lost a 21-14 heartbreaker to state power Vero Beach in the regional quarterfinals.
Under Simon, numerous Longhorn players would move on to college football, including 2022 record-breaking running back Tyler Emans – who will play college football at Ivy League Brown University this fall.
It will not be Simon’s first stint as an athletic director, as held the dual titles of Athletics Director and Head Football Coach at Southern Lee High School in North Carolina before moving to Harmony. “It’s obviously going to be a change but it’s one I am looking forward to,” Simon said. “Since Tohopekaliga opened a few years ago, their athletic programs have gotten better and better every year. There is a lot of positivity at that school, and that extends to the faculty, athletes, coaches, and community. Hopefully I will be able to use my experience to help the school and athletic department keep moving in the positive direction they have already started to establish.”
Kerr said that Harmony would evaluate Lippert in the spring but would still work through the application process. But he added that he hoped the majority of Simon’s staff would remain at Harmony. “All of his assistants work here and have been with Don for a long time. There is something to be said for the consistency he has built.”
From Positively Osceola, we thank Coach Simon and his family for their investment in our community, and for changing the lives of students, families, and the community. We wish him success at Tohopekaliga, and we’ll see you there! Go Longhorns!