Separation is never easy, especially when you've built a life-long bond.
There's not many relationships stronger than that of a head coach and his star quarterback, but Pete DiNovo and Bob Hudson's runs deeper than that. It's more like a father-son tandem, and like any dad, the East Lake head coach is suffering from empty-net syndrome.
Pete's officially enrolled in college, working to earn a starting spot at UCF, and Bob's slowly starting to pull away.
"We talk once or twice a week," Hudson said. "He's gone away to college now. I've been in daily contact with him for three years, and it's time for him to go away. He knows my number, if he needs anything."
The two have grown closer with each year, and, no surprise, the Eagles football program's rise has followed. The team advanced to the Regional Finals in back-to-back years on the right arm of DiNovo, and the clipboard of Hudson.
"Part of it is I call the plays and he's the quarterback, and the second part is he's just my leader all around," said Hudson, who's spent over a decade at East Lake. "We've built quite the relationship the past three years."
Now, the long-time head coach will have to find a replacement for Pinellas County's all-time career passing leader, and DiNovo will have to start back at the bottom, working his way up. He's already got a jump-start on the competition, enrolling early to get ahead on the field and in his studies.
"I'm always impressed by Pete," Hudson said. "It's not a surprise (he left early), but until it actually happens, you don't see how it plays out. That's the type of kid he is, he rises to the occasion. He's going to go in there and give it 110 percent like he did here."
It won't be easy for DiNovo to rise up the Knights depth chart, especially with Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl MVP Blake Bortles ahead of him, but he's never backed down from competition. Hudson thinks he'll have a chance to suit up immediately.
"I'd imagine he'd compete for the No. 2 or No. 3 spot," he said. "It just depends on how they want to do it. Say he's the No. 2, and you're in a game, you can always dress him and not use him unless you have to.
"If the game is out of hand and they're going to bring in a back up kid, that's when they have to do decide if they want to get him reps or keep the red-shirt year."
Now, comes a new era. No. 8 will no longer be under center for the Eagles, and Hudson will have to find a new signal caller, but the two will always remain close. A bond lasting way beyond the hash marks.
"We kind of already went though that 'good bye' thing," Hudson said. "I told him the two dates that were important to me were signing day and the banquet ... and, of course, he'll be back for his graduation to walk with his class. Those things are important for him to finish off this chapter of his life and move on to the next one."
Ryan Bass is a reporter for Bright House Sports Network. Find him on twitter, @Ry_Bass.