Gloucester High School football coach Sonny Merchant abruptly resigned in the middle of last week with just four games remaining on the 2012 schedule. Merchant was in his fifth season with the Dukes, who had yet to win a game this year and had scored only 20 points in six outings.
The resignation followed a 60-0 loss to Hampton and negative comments about Merchant from the mothers of two players who addressed the Gloucester School Board on Oct. 9. One parent alleged that Merchant bullied both players and parents, and said an online petition for his ouster had collected 120 signatures.
Gloucester defensive coordinator Ken Hardcastle was tapped to take over the head coach duties for the remainder of the season. Hardcastle had just two days to prepare last week for Saturday’s game with Woodside, which the Dukes lost, 37-3.
An early Gloucester fumble led to a quick 8-0 lead for the Wolverines, who also scored another touchdown in the first quarter. A second-quarter touchdown and a successful two-point conversion put Woodside up, 23-0. Prior to the half, the ball was stripped from a Gloucester offensive player and run back for another score and a 30-0 halftime advantage for the hosts.