Gulf High School Football History
If you can add information for this page, please send email to Jeff Miller. This page was last revised on Aug. 15, 2017.
QUICK FACTSConference championships: 1941-42, 1944-45 (determined by the Dickinson Mathematical System)
Best record: 9-1, 1941-42; 9-1 (regular season) or 10-2 (including playoff games), 2008-09
Greatest margin of victory: 61-0 vs Zephyrhills, Oct. 13, 1944
Greatest number of points scored in a game: 68, vs Citrus High School, Sept. 9, 2005
The team had one win, according to the recollection of James Grey. Grey recalled that he quarterbacked Gulf’s first football team. He recalled that a Tarpon Springs baker, Bill Moutsatsos, volunteered to coach the team. Deane DeFord apparently took over as coach later in the year. Admission for home games was 25 cents. Grey recalled that helmets weren't required, the players had second-hand uniforms, and used equipment purchased from Clearwater High.
The obituary of George William Corwin Littell ('31) says he was on Gulf’s first football team. The obituary of Melvin Clay Knowles Sr. ('31) says that he "captained the school’s first football team."
On Oct. 3, 1930, the New Port Richey Press quoted Prof. St. Clair as saying the Gulf football team would play Bushnell here on Oct. 31 and would play St. Leo on Nov. 7, and would probably play Brooksville on Thanksgiving day.
On Oct. 16, the newspaper reported the team would play Webster at home at 3 o'clock on Friday. The team had recently lost to Largo High School.
On Oct. 18, 1930, Gulf lost to the Hillsborough High School reserve squad, 26-6.
On Oct. 24, 1930, in a story titled "Football Will Be Played Here Tomorrow P. M.," the New Port Richey Press reported that Sacred Heart Reserves of Tampa would play Gulf Saturday at 3 o'clock. It reported that last Friday Gulf lost to Hillsborough High School 26-6. Another article reported that Gulf would play Bushnell at home on Oct. 31 and St. Leo on Nov. 7 and might play Brooksville on Thanksgiving Day.
On Oct. 25, 1930, Gulf lost to Tampa High 70-0.
On Nov. 7, 1930, the New Port Richey Press reported that "Gulf high school football players are elated over the fine invitation accorded them by Tampa Legion Florida Alumni to be that organization’s guests at the great football game on November 11 between Clemson-Florida freshmen at Tampa."
On Nov. 7, 1930, Gulf lost to St. Leo 70-0.
A photo of the 1930-31 team was published in the New Port Richey Press with this caption: “The stalwart youths pictured above comprised the Buccaneer squad of 1930, the first team to represent Gulf high school on the gridiron. According to Bill Weiskopf, a member of the squad, the Bucs enjoyed a fairly successful season, with virtually every boy in high school competing for a position on the team. They are left to right, front row: "Carp" Carpenter, Charles DeWoodie, F. Dean, Oris Bragg, Henry Falany, James Grey, Victor Moore, Lucien Roy, B. Dean, Bill Fisher, "Preacher" Mitchell. Back row: J. H. St. Clair, athletic director for whom St. Clair field was named, Cecil Henderson, William Weiskopf, Francis Luikart, Gordon Fullington, Raymond Nikkari, George Marks, Melvin Knowles, Bud Clark, Corwin Littell, Frank Kauffman, Fred Kolb, James Vickers, Robert Foskett, Buck Kelly, J. H. Kelly principal.” On the back of the actual photo is written the following: Center, Horace Kelly; left guard, James Vickers; left tackle, Oris Bragg; left end, Melvin Knowles; right guard, Victor Clark; right tackle, Francis Luikart; right end, Milton Dean; left halfback, Gordon Fullington; right halfback, Henry Falaney; quarterback, Raymond Nikkar; fullback, George Marrs.
On Oct. 2, 1931, the New Port Richey Press reported: "For the first time in its history Gulf high school is to bloom forth as a full fledged football school. Although some football was played last year, a sufficient number failed to come out and as a result a poor start was made. But with Deane DeFord of the University of Florida here this season as coach, things are beginning to hum, and not only one team but material for two teams is on the field, and according to Prof. DeFord, Gulf high will certainly be on the football map all season. The season is being ushered in with the game at Largo high Friday afternoon. Other games scheduled to date are with Webster, Bushnell, St. Leo, Hillsboro reserves, Tampa college, Brooksville and Tarpon Springs. Others are in process of schedule and will be reported later. The first team is composed of Lester Hill, fullback; Louis Burts, quarterback; Henry Falany, left half; Jimmy Grey, right half; Francis Luikart, left end; Albert Shendel, right end; Jimmy Vickers, right tackle; Bud Clark, left tackle; Oris Bragg, right guard; Robert Foskett, left guard and Horace Kelly, center. ... Others who have come out for the team, and will compose the second contingent, for the present are Billy Fisher, Bill Brewster, Bill Brush, Gordon McKay, Rudolph Kelly, Clarence Casson, Graydon Hill, Oliver Shelton, Elis Wick, Jack Moore and Dillon Sigmund."
On Nov. 6, 1931, the Dade City Banner reported that the New Port Richey team will play Pasco High today, the first football game played in Dade City in several years.
On Nov. 18, Gulf lost to Pasco High School, 7-0. This information is from the Dade City Banner. The New Port Richey Press newspapers of 1932 and 1933 are apparently lost.
Information unavailable. The New Port Richey Press newspapers of 1932 and 1933 are apparently lost. The Dade City Banner reported on Pasco High football games and seems not to mention a game with Gulf, suggesting that Gulf did not have football in 1933-34.
On Oct. 26, 1934, the New Port Richey Press reported, "Formation of an athletic association at Gulf High School was announced Saturday by the new athletic director, Jack Sutor. No football will be played in the school this year, but active preparations are going forward looking to a good season in other lines of sport."
On Apr. 29, 1938, the New Port Richey Press reported: "Football will be a part of the athletic program for next fall in Gulf high school, it is announced by Coach Stevens. The school has not had a team in some five years. Initial practices are now being held with about 30 players from which to select a team. Ten games are already arranged for, starting in September. The support of patrons and people of the town are asked in making this new start in football successful."
On Sept. 16, 1938, Gulf lost its first game of the season to the Clearwater High reserves by 60-0 (ten touchdowns).
On Sept. 23, 1938, Gulf lost to Tampa College 52-0. The win by Tampa College broke its losing streak that extended back into the 1936 season. Halfback Napoleon Falany did most of the ball carrying for the Bucs. Tampa College gained 391 yards from scrimmage, compared to 12 for Gulf. The referee refused to allow Walter Frierson, age 11, Gulf’s 79-pound halfback, to play in the game, saying he was too small for high school football. He had played in last week’s game.
On Sept. 30, Gulf lost to Bushnell, 68-0.
On Oct. 14, Gulf lost to Brooksville, 47-0.
On Oct. 21, Gulf lost to Florida Military Academy, 47-0.
On Nov. 4, 1938, Gulf lost to St. Leo college, 44-0. It was the eighth straight scoreless loss. The Tampa Morning Tribune reported the following day that Gulf was the "losingest" team in the country, having been outscored 442-0 thus far in the season. Wally Frierson, at 79 pounds, played for about ten minutes in the second half. (See this and a related article below.)
On Nov. 8, 1938, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the team had been outscored 443-0.
On Nov. 11, 1938, Gulf lost to Pasco, 7-0.
On Nov. 17, 1938. Gulf won its first game of the season, 14-6, defeating the Clearwater reserves. Clark and Falany scored the two touchdowns, according to one source.
On Nov. 19, 1938, the Evening Independent reported:
The jinx is dead. All hail the valiant and, at last, victorious band of gridders representing Gulf high school of New Port Richey! Ten times this season the Gulf high boys, inexperienced and outweighed, trotted out on various gridirons, and 10 times they were defeated—routed without scoring a single point. But came the eleventh game—and victory. Last night the plucky N. P. R. outfit bested the Clearwater high reserve eleven, the Crimson Whirlwind, 14-6. “Happy” Clark, Richey fullback, tallied both touchdowns for the victors. Clearwater tallied once but that score was somewhat tainted by the discovery that a timekeeper had become confused to the tune of about two extra minutes of the second quarter. For 11 games New Port Richey has one win and 14 points, its foes 10 wins and 457 points.
On Nov. 25, 1938, the New Port Richey Press reported, "On Wednesday night of this week, the locals held the fast Inverness down well, being beaten by 25 to 13. Clark and Falany were again the scorers for New Port Richey."
Other scores from this season have not been found, although Manley Lashua later recalled a loss of 72-0. The Tampa Morning Tribune praised the team for its sportsmanship and praised the fans in New Port Richey for supporting the team. The article (reproduced elsewhere on this page) pointed out that none of the members of the team had ever played football and nine of the 21 players had never seen a football game before the season began.
1939-40Coach: Oliver Daugherty.
On Oct. 18, 1939, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the team had a 2-2 record.
On Oct. 20, 1939, the New Port Richey Press reported that Gulf High School will play football against the St. Paul school of St. Petersburg at 4:15 today at home. It reported that the last home game, against Brooksville, drew a crowd of over 500 persons.
The 1940 yearbook listed the football team as: Charles Frierson, Hilton Williams, Harmon Stevenson, William Willis, Duane Hope, Walley Frierson, Ronnie Sampson (water boy), Johnny DeCubellis, Charles Fisher, Manley Lashua, Joe Littell, Kenneth Hope, Worth Littell, Curtis Falany, Napoleon Falany, Happy Clark, Dick Platt, Albert DeCubellis, Bill Grey, Claude Johnson, David DeCubellis. Coach Oliver Daugherty.
1940-41In the first game of the season Gulf defeated Haines City. On Fri., Oct. 4 Gulf defeated Inverness 40-0. On Fri., Oct. 11, at 3 p.m., Gulf defeated Tarpon Springs 14-0. It was the third consecutive win. On Fri., Oct. 18, Gulf defeated Pasco High 26-0. They defeated Bushnell 20-0. They next played the St. Leo Lions and St. Paul.
On Nov. 15, 1940, the New Port Richey Press reported:
At 8 o'clock Friday, Nov. 8, the opening kick-off resounded marking the annual New Port Richey-Clearwater Football game which led to a Clearwater defeat of 31-0 by the sturdy (?) Buccaneers of New Port Richey.
On Nov. 22, 1940, the New Port Richey Press reported:
The Gulf High Buccaneers travel to Bushnell to play the last conference game of the season and the only one to be counted as a legitimate game. All of the games this valiant team has won have been taken away from the because of the ineligibility of two players, Clifford Carnegie and Napoleon Falany. The boys were declared ineligible by conference officials due to a misunderstanding and an oversight by school heads in charge of football activities at Gulf high.
On Nov. 20, 1940, Principal J. M. Lanier announced that Gulf would forfeit six football games it won over Gulf Coast conference teams because Clifford Carnegie and Napoleon Falany were found to be ineligible since they left school a few weeks earlier at the end of the previous school year in order to go Canada for the summer. Gulf forfeited games to Brooksville, Tarpon Springs, Dade City, St. Leo, Clearwater “B” and Inverness. In seven games Gulf had been defeated only by Haines City. Lanier stated, “We want it understood that these boys were not ringers, migrants or otherwise. One was born and reared here, and the other one had been here in this school for five years. ... We are sorry for the boys because they followed the advice of their coach and teachers. It was an error on our part and not an attempt to evade the rules of the association.”
On Nov. 29, 1940, the New Port Richey Press reported:
Local citizens will pay honor to Gulf High’s championship football team on Tuesday night, December 10, when they will be tendered a banquet in the Hacienda hotel.
We received an email in 2009 explaining the ineligibility of the two players:
As for this misunderstanding Napoleon “Sudy” Falany and Clifford Carnegie left Florida for summer holidays in Canada. Clifford was a Canadian citizen and Sudy returned to Kingston, Ontario to work the family owned Boat Lines. Clifford was granted a four year scholarship to the University of Florida Gators at Gainesville.
A larger version of this picture, with some names, is here.
The team had a 9-1 record, keeping the opponent scoreless in six games, and won the Gulf Coast Conference. Members of the team were Dave Luikart, Bryce Bliss, Jim Butler, Sam Baillie, Harland Kingsley, Manley Lashua, David and John DeCubellis, Harmon Stevenson, Claude Johnson, Sebert Parker, Don Uzzle, Duane Hope, Bobb Emmons, Worth and Joe Littell, Frank Morgan, William Willis and David Clark. Oliver Daugherty was head coach, and Frank Madden was team manager.
In 2006 Harland Kingsley ('45) recalled that the team lost only three games in three years.
In a 1997 newspaper article, David Luikart Sr., the right end, recalled, "We had an excellent team. We beat a lot of people we weren't supposed to. I remember we beat a hot-shot team from St. Pete called St. Paul. They had a 240-pound guy in the backfield and we beat them, 19-6." The newspaper article also stated that Gulf also beat St. Leo (29-6), Zephyrhills (46-0), Tarpon Springs (21-0) and Wildwood (7-0). Its lone loss was at Brooksville, 7-2.]
In December 1941, many newspapers around the U. S. carried the following in a sports column: “What’s in a name anyhow? Worth Little, halfback, was voted the most valuable player on the Gulf High team which won the Florida West Coast Conference championship for New Port Richey.” Worth’s last name, however, was actually Littell, pronounced with a stress on the second syllable.
On Jan. 2, 1942, the New Port Richey Press reported that the local laundry has been destroyed by fire and that the uniforms for the Gulf High football team were lost in the fire. A week later, the newspaper carried an appeal by Principal J. M. Lanier for contributions to replace the loss, valued at $300.
The following account appears in Florida Cracker Days in West Pasco County 1830-1982 by Pauline Stevenson Ash:
One of the all-time football teams of Pasco County was the Bucs of Gulf High School who finished the 1941-42 season with a nine-one record and six games in which opponents were kept scoreless.
The following account appears in the 1942 yearbook:
The Buccaneers opened the season by traveling to Wildwood and trouncing Coach Daugherty’s former Alma Mater, 7-0. The Bucs were handicapped by the illness of several members of the team, but came out on top when the final whistle was blown.
1942-43First game, lost to Clearwater 19-0. Second game, defeated F. M. A. 13-7. Third game, defeated Largo 26-0; fourth game, tied Brooksville. Next game was at Dade City. The team defeated Bushnell 12-5. The team lost to Tarpon Springs 46-0 on Thanksgiving Day.
Team members: George and Emmett Sawyer, Dale and Eddie Swartsel, Frank and Phillip Madden,
Sammie, Pete and Eugene Baillie, David and Johnny DeCubellis, James Clark,
Jack Mizner, Harland Kingsley, James Butler, William Willis, C. L. Eikel, Frank Morgan,
Marvin Burney, Richard Stevenson, Buddy Cassels, Cecil Raymond, Bob Emmons, Buddy Locke,
Jeffy Frayne, E. H. Anderson.
1943-44Team record: 3 wins, 6 losses, 3 ties. Coach: A. H. Stevens.
The team lost the first two games 41-0 and 19-0, and then played Dade City, St. Leo, Bushnell, Largo, Brooksville, Largo, and Tarpon Springs. The 1944 Pasco High School yearbook indicates that Gulf and Pasco played to a 12-12 tie.
On Nov. 25, 1943, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Tarpon Springs defeated Gulf 40-0 last night to gain the title in the southern division of the Gulf Coast conference.
Team members were Eddie Swartsel, Jeffie Frayne, W. D. Frierson, Richard Stevenson, Henry Watts, Nevin Roush, Ingemar Ahnell, Eugene Baillie, Cecil Raymond, George Sawyer, Marvin Burney, Glenn Lioke, Kenneth Cassels, Dale Swartsel, James Butler, Lester Whittenhall, Pete Baillie, Bobbie Hoffman, Waymond Richardson, Johnnie DeCubellis, Dan Zuber, Frank Morgan, and Harland Kingsley.
1944-45On Sept. 16, 1944, the St. Petersburg Times reported that the Clearwater Crimson Tornado defeated Gulf 26-0.
On Oct. 13, 1944, Gulf defeated Zephyrhills 61-0, according to a 2001 article in the St. Petersburg Times, which shows it as Gulf’s greatest-ever margin of victory.
On Dec. 8, 1944, the New Port Richey Press reported:
The local gridiron supporters of the Buccaneers were over-joyed when the Bucs defeated Tarpon Springs last week in Tarpon Springs, 6-0; but the Bucs surprised most patrons by also winning the West Coast Football Title which is determined under the Dickinson system. By winning the title, the Bucs also won the Tribune Trophy which has been donated each year. The Bucs nosed out Wildwood High’s gridders for the title on the final check of ratings set up under the Dickinson system.
The 1945 Pasco High School yearbook shows that Gulf defeated Pasco 47-0.
1945-46The team record: Plant City 18-0 L, Inverness 9-6 L, Webster 6-0 W, F. M. A. 7-0 forfeit, ineligible player, Brooksville 9-7 L, Wildwood 12-0 L, Zephyrhills 26-12 W, Dade City 12-6 L, Bushnell 19-12 L, Tarpon Springs 0-0 T.
Another article indicates Gulf defeated Inverness 6-0.
The 1946 yearbook reported the team won half of their ten games and finished third in the West Coast Conference. It reported the team held Tarpon Springs to a scoreless tie and defeated Brooksville. Players listed were: W. D. Frierson, Eddie Swartsel, Marvin Burney, Lavon Harper, Clarence Moody, Bill Leazer, Marvin Loechelt, Joseph Weiskopf, Robert Jackson, Oscar Pedrazas, Richard Dugger, Kendall Larch, Sam Withrowe, Robert Hoffman, Dan Zuber, Robert Froberg, Archie Boyd, John Phillips, James Loechelt, Walter Fraddosio, Nevin Roush, Glen Locke.
1946-47Coach: A. H. Mickel, first year, replacing A. H. Stevens.
On Sept. 20, 1946, the football field was formally dedicated under the new floodlights and named James H. St. Clair Memorial Field. The first football game was played under the lights, vs Our Lady of Perpetual Help of Tampa.
On Oct. 25, 1946, the New Port Richey Press reported, “Coach A. H. Mickel’s Gulf high school Buccaneers go into their fifth game of the season this Friday night against the strong Brooksville team in Brooksville, while still remaining undefeated and unscored upon.” [One of the games may have been a tie.]
On Nov. 28, 1946, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Tarpon Springs defeated Gulf, 14-0, last night at New Port Richey.
On Nov. 22, 1946, the New Port Richey Press reported, “Members of the local team had a busy day last Friday. In the afternoon the boys joined the local fire department in combatting grass and brush fires that threatened property on the north east side of town, and this effort kept them busy for hours. Then they changed into their football togs and tackled the hard-to-beat Dade City team.”
When Gulf met the Pasco Pirates, both teams had been undefeated. Pasco won the game 38-0.
The 1947 yearbook shows: Danon Brantley, Frank Williamson, Jimmy Lochelt, Bill Hicks, Reco Gause, Marvin Lochelt, Rupert Bethel, John Butler, James Eberwine, Wallace Williamson, Berry Alexander, Jim Drinkard, Fred Sawyer, Bobby Jackson, Dan Zuber, Byrum Cooper, W. D. Frierson, Oscar Pedrazas, Richard Duggar, Nevin Roush, Sam Withrowe, Johnny Carey, Henry Sawyer, Dale Bliss, Sam Anderson, Ronald Cooper, Gene Hicks, Walter Fraddosio, Jerry DeCubellis.
1947-48Coach: Jim Blalock (one year only). Returning players: Daniel Zuber, Carl Brady, Marvin Loechelt, Kendall Lorch, Nevin Roush, Samuel Withrowe. Others in pre-season practice: Dale Bliss, Sam Anderson, Dannon Brantley, Johnnie Butler, Jack Cone, Jerry DeCubellis, Jimmie Dringard, Reaco Gause, Bill Hicks, James Loechelt, Donald Ransom, Leavon Russ, Fred Sawyer, Henry Sawyer, Frank Williamson, Wallace Williamson, Neil Hunt, Datus Raymond, Ticknor, Casson.
The team opened the season with a 6-0 win over OLPH of Tampa and then dropped games to Inverness, 7-6, and Hillsborough B, 14-13. The team also lost to Pasco 20-6.
1948-49Coach: Joe Semago. Tentative line-up: Sam Anderson, Bill Hicks, tackles; Berry Alexander and Donald Ransom, guards; Reco Gause and Leroy Hunt, ends; Dannon Brantley, center; Niel Hunt, fullback; Wilburn Watts, Levon Russ, and Frank Williamson. Left end Henry Sawyer may be unable to play because of an infected foot.
The team was 2-3 midway through the season.
1949-50"Wimpy" Lagano, LH (Captain); Lavon Russ, RH; Wilburn Watts, FB; Johnny Carey, QB; Delano Sawyer, RE; Victor Schuck, RT; Ray Roush, RG; Danon Brantley, C; Lafayette Sullivan, LG; George Filar, LT; Leroy Hunt, LE; substitutes: Joe Mason, LE; Dick Gause, FB; Jack Buhler, RG. Also Bill Hicks and Dixie Henricks.
The team had a 2-1 record in late October.
On Nov. 11 Gulf defeated Largo 39-0 with "Wimpy" Lagano running the initial kick-off 80 yards to a touchdown.
1950-51Team record: 3-7. George Filar and Ray Roush were selected for the all West Coast Conference team.
A Sept. 29, 1950, newspaper article reports the team has been plagued by injuries and suffered their worst blow when LeRoy Hunt, stellar end, was injured in the Crystal River game. It reports tickets for the Tarpon Springs game tonight are on sale at Roscoe’s drug store, Rodger’s barber shop, and at the school. The probable starting lineup for tonight’s game: Johnny Carey, QB; Arthur Moody, RH; Joe Mason, LH; Lafayette Sullivan, FB; Victor Schuck. LE; Lee Kersey, LT; Jimmy McIntyre, LG; Dixie Hendricks, C; Ray Roush, RG; George Filar, RT; Jack Cone, RE.
1951-52Coach: John Semago. Lettermen: Kenneth Trufant, J. C. Frierson, Bill Johnston, Cecil Loechelt, Clifford Styles, Joe Mason, Bob McAlpine, Dixie Hendricks, Bob Blackwell, Jim McIntyre, Ray Roush, Lee Kersey, Joe Korner, Jim Williams, Ronald Nessler, Larry and Lee Krejci.
On Nov. 9, 1951, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf had yet to win a game this year, having lost to Tarpon Springs, Inverness, Hillsborough Jayvees, Brooksville, Wildwood, and Zephyrhills.
1952-53Coach: John Semago. Captain: Joe Mason. Co-captain: Bob Blackwell.
1953-54Coach: John Semago. Only eight boys reported for the first practice in August.
The team was inexperienced. Of the 19 boys on the squad, 12 were newcomers to the game. On the first team, six boys had one year’s experience and the other five were out for football for the first time.
The team consisted of Kenneth Bragg, Bill Thompson, Joe Gauthier, Lawrence Dickey, Bob Krejci, Bill Stephens, Thomas Dickey, Jim Williams, Andre Gauthier, Clyde Sullivan, Larry Krejci, Ronald Nessler, Lee Krejci, Bill West, Eryman Smith, Wilmer Burney, Paul Butler, Dirk Wiersma, Jerome Radike, Hinton Ransom, Ed McMickel, Ken Thompson, Tom Scott.
Team record: 0-9. Head coach: Al Lagano. The scores of four games are known, all losses: the team lost to Chiefland 26-0, Bushnell 24-6, Crystal River 34-13, and Zephyrhills 46-6.
The starting line-up for the homecoming game was Richard Sawyer, LE; John Sawyer, LT; Clyde Sullivan, LG; Paul Butler, C; Andre Gauthier, RG; Ron Nessler or Jerome Radike, RT; Jim Lanning, RE; Ken Hope, QB; Ken Janishek, LH; Lorie Goodman, RH; Marvin Pittman or Joe Gauthier, FB.
Team record: 0-10. Head coach: Al Lagano. The three known scores are all losses: to Punta Gorda, 20-7; to Bushnell, 26-0; and to Zephyrhills, 26-0.
Coach: T. Edd Webb. Ben Harper recalls, "In the 56 season we lost several games and then our first win in over three seasons was on Oct. 25 in an afternoon game at Admiral Farragut, 26-6. Talk about jubilation! Our record that year was 2-8 and I can't remember who our other victory was over."
The first ever Junior Varsity went undefeated 5-0-1 with only a 6-6 tie with Dade City to mar their record.
Coach: T. Edd Webb. Ben Harper recalls the record was 4-6, although the article below states the team won three games. Team members: Joe Grove, Ronnie Jones, Gene Little, Benny Harper, David Wishart, Raymond Gauthier, Steve Bush, Bill Weiskopf, Wendell Hollenbeck, David Parker (mgr.), Jerry Smith, Eugene Sawyer, Walton McMickle, Dennis McKern, Danny Gulbrandsen, George Blankenship, John Gay, Gary Bacon, Udell Hatcher, Jed Pittman, Freddy Sullivan, Allen McCray, Jerry Pope, Eddie Krahtz, Glenn Sawyer (mgr.), Orville Williamson, Mike Hunn, Ed Rees, Herman Spinks, Wayne Teghtmeyer, Carl Norfleet, Gordon Haney, Ronnie Gordon.
On Nov. 23, 1957, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf closed out its home football schedule last night by defeating Brooksville, 27-0. The win brought the team record to 3-6 for the year and they play Zephyrhills next week.
Under coach T. Edd Webb the team had an 8-2-1 record, second best in Gulf history. A post-season game with Umatilla was played on Dec. 5, 1958. Ben Harper recalls, "The Lions Club created what was to be the first annual Lions Bowl and invited Umatilla to play Gulf. Both schools had 8-2 records. The game ended in a 25-25 tie."
After the successful 1958 season it was decided to move the Bucs to the more prestigious Tampa Bay Conference. The Bucs went 6 and 4 in the regular season play with losses to highly touted Palmetto 7-0, powerhouse Brandon 26-0, an excellent Tarpon Springs team 33-7, and a disappointing loss to Turkey Creek 20-0 when they turned the ball over 9 times in a driving rain. Wins recorded were 19-0 over Zephyrhills, 19-0 over Pinecrest, 26-0 over Admiral Farragut, 20-0 over East Bay and Brewster Tech. Along the way they avenged the prior year loss to Groveland by beating them 27-0. They closed out the season with a second appearance in the Lions Bowl with a convincing 18-6 win over West Coast Conference Champions Brooksville. Overall record 7-4. (Thanks to Bill Denegar for this information.) Head coach: Ed Webb.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach Ed Webb. Gulf lost the first game of the season to Tarpon Springs, 19-6.
Head coach Edd Webb. Backfield coach Tommy Weightman. Line coach Fred Smith. End coach Dennis Hannah. At the start of the season, the New Port Richey Press called the team "light, extremely inexperienced." Team record: 4-6.
Under Coach Fred Smith the team had a 5-4-1 record, and a 3-2-1 record within the Tampa Bay Conference. The tie game was a scoreless game with Brandon.
On Nov. 22, 1962, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “The Bulldogs and Gulf High clash at 8 p.m. on St. Clair Field. Earlier this fall Gulf won 14-0 when they played at Zephyrhills. Gulf brings an even 4-4-1 record into the fray and has gained considerable strength during the second half of the campaign under Head Coach Fred Smith. Gulf has lost only once in its last six outings.”
1963-64The team record was 4-6. Head coach: Fred Smith. The schedule: Hernando, South Sumter, Pinecrest, Dade City, Brewster Tech, Hernando, Tarpon Springs, and Admiral Farragut.
On Sept. 21, 1963, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf lost to Tarpon Springs, 14-6, in a non-conference football opener.
On Oct. 18, 1963, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf had defeated both Mulberry and Hernando for a 2-0 TBC mark.
On Oct. 31, 1963, the New Port Richey Press reported that Gulf defeated Brewster 58-0. Johnny Short scored touchdowns three times, Jim Dreher twice, and Frank Robson, Les Snyder, Don Meyers, and Kermit Dunn each scored once.
1964-65Head Coach: Tom Weightman. Assistants: Bill Foster, J. C. Akins. The team had a 3-4 TBC record and a 3-6 record overall.
1965-66Record: 3-7 under head coach Tom Weightman. Assistants: Bill Foster, J. C. Akins.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Tom Weightman. Assistants: Bill Foster, J. C. Akins.
On Nov. 4, 1966, Gulf lost to Mulberry 71-13, according to a 2001 article in the St. Petersburg Times.
On Nov. 23, 1966, the St. Petersburg Times reported that tonight’s game against Zephyrhills would be Gulf’s final football game in the Tampa Bay Conference. It reported that both Gulf and Zephyrhills had 1-8 records.
Head coach: John McFarlin. Line coach: Don Kessler. End coach: Ron Fritchley. The team had a 5-5 record.
On Oct. 13, 1967, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf lost to Tarpon Springs 20-0.
1968-69On July 31, 1968, the St. Petersburg Times reported that 27-year-old Don Kessler was appointed head football coach, replacing John McFarlin, who had asked for a leave of absence to complete studies towards a master’s degree.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Don Kessler. Assistants: James Valentine, Tony Allen, Ron Fritchley.
1969-70Head coach: Jim Valentine, first year. Assistants: Joe Konstantinos, Paul Lambardo, Tom Hotenstein. Record: 3-7. JV coaches were Tony Allen, head coach, Charlie McBride assistant.
On Oct. 30, 1969, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “Two winless high school football teams of the Sunshine Conference, Gulf High of New Port Richey and St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut Academy, collided last Friday afternoon at the Blue Jackets’ field. Gulf left the field with a 30-6 victory which left Admiral Farragut firmly entrenched in the conference cellar.”
A 1970 New Port Richey Press article reported that Mike Voorhees, who was an All-Sunshine Conference linebacker, signed a two-year football scholarship to Coffeyville Junior College in Kansas. It was the only football scholarship given to a Gulf player in two years. The article quoted defensive Coach Paul Lombardo as saying that Voorhees had been transferred to the linebacker position and in the last four games had made 46 tackles and 38 assists.
Head coach: Jim Valentine. Assistants: Joe Konstantinos, Paul Lambardo, Tom Hotenstein. Record: 3-7.
Quarterback Dennis Smith set a record by scoring four touchdowns against St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut. Gulf won the game, 54-0.
In the 1970-71 season RB Arthur Jones averaged 6 yards a carry
JV coaches were Charley McBride, head coach, Alvin Davis assistant.
1971-72Head coach was Joe Konstantinos. Assistant coaches: Art Engle, Paul Girardi, Phil Littell, Jim Berry. Record 1-9. Another source gives Jim Valentine as the head coach.
David Drake recalls: "In the 71-72 season we only won one game. We only had 16 guys on the team. Most of us played both ways. We were in the Sunshine Conference, which consisted of Hernando, Zephyrhills, Tampa Catholic, Tampa Jesuit, Tarpon Springs, St. Petersburg Bishop Barry, Clearwater Catholic. That year the only game we won was with East Bay Riverview. We beat them 27-20. Arthur Jones set a school record for the longest run from scrimmage with a run of 87 yards. With such a lousy season Ron "Lizard" Lilland was named all conference at Center, Gordon Wesley (Offensive Guard) and me David Drake (Offensive Tackle) were named honorable mention all conference. Lenny Ponte (Fullback) was named all district."
The team lost to Zephyrhills 37-0, Palmetto 26-7, Crystal River 24-6, Bishop Barry 28-0, Tarpon Springs 36-0, Tampa Jesuit 53-6, Tampa Catholic 48-0, Hernando 48-19, and Ocala Vanguard 24-0.
1972-73Head coach: James Valentine. Assistants: Harold Clum, Ron Funkhouser, Coach Ulmer. Record: 4-6.
The season opened with a win against Zephyrhills, 28-0. The 50th anniversary of Gulf High School was observed at that game, and old timers from the first graduating class were recognized. The seniors in the yearbook who played in the 50th anniversary game were as follows: Frank Grey (QB, Captain), Jim Harris (Safety), Arthur Jones (Halfback), John Stratford (Guard), Eric Henrickson (Tackle), Jim Asbel (Linebacker), John Tucker (Running Back), Richard Penn (Defensive Back), Bill Stratford (Guard), Keith Naperkowski (Guard), Wayne Harper (Guard), Keith Aston (Linebacker), Jim Goodchild (Fullback), Ron Lilland (Guard), John Collins (Safety), David Drake (Tackle, Captain), Mike Blair (End), Bill Drake (Tackle).
On Nov. 14, 1972, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf got its fourth win Friday night at Clearwater Catholic, winning 17-15. If Gulf wins its homecoming game this Friday night, Gulf will have a 5-5 season record, the best since 1967.
Head coach: James Valentine. Head defense: Alvin Davis. Offense Linemen: Larry Rhum. End Coach: Larry Robinson. RB Scott Fish scored four touchdowns against Zephyrhills. Team record: 1-9.
On Nov. 16, 1973, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “Gulf downed Zephyrhills 23-8 the first game but then scored only once the next seven games, losing all seven despite a super defense. Then last week the offense renewed its scoring punch at homecoming against Clearwater Central Catholic but the defense let down in spots and it cost the Bucs a 23-22 setback.”
Coach: Jim Riser, first year. Team record: 4-6.
The team had a 3-0 start, defeating Zephyrhills 21-0, Gibbs 31-0, and Crystal River 7-6. But numerous players were injured in the fourth game with Tarpon Springs, and losses followed. The St. Petersburg Times later reported, “Gulf was 3-0 after the first four weeks of the season and appeared on its way to the first winning season for a Buccaneer team since 1964. But then came a narrow loss to Tarpon Springs and a bundle of injuries that have crippled the team since.”
On Nov. 27, 1974, Gulf, then 3-6, played Hudson for the first time. The two schools used the same facility for classes, with Gulf students attending in the morning and Hudson students in the afternoon. An instant rivalry was created. Early scores between the two schools follow. 1974: Gulf 20, Hudson 6; 1975: Hudson 18, Gulf 14; 1976: Hudson 14, Gulf 0; 1977: Hudson 41, Gulf 0; 1978: Hudson 35, Gulf 6; 1979: Hudson 21, Gulf 6; 1980: Hudson 28, Gulf 0; 1981: Gulf 29, Hudson 16; 1982: Hudson 7, Gulf 6.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Jim Riser.
On May 15, 1975, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Coach Jim Riser is adding the wishbone offense to the Gulf football attack this spring. It reported that Riser and assistant coaches Kevin White, Alvin Davis, and Jerry Young have been working diligently to make the wishbone work.
On Nov. 21, 1975, the St. Petersburg Times reported:
You have to go back a few years to find the last time a Gulf High football team has gone 5-5. Back to 1966 [should be 1967-jm], in fact, when Coach John McFarlin’s team broke even. Since then, Gulf’s Buccaneers haven't been able to field a team with a record as good. That could change here tonight, however. Coach Jim Riser’s Buccaneers take a 4-5 record into their season finale against archrival neighbor Hudson Senior. ... The last time a Gulf football team posted a winning season was in 1964, when Fred Smith coached the Buccaneers to a 6-4 record [probably incorrect-jm].
On Oct. 22, 1976, the new football stadium was dedicated as W. D. "Des" Little Stadium "in grateful appreciation of his support for the youth of the community." Former teacher Kathleen Norris recalls that the first touchdown scored at the new stadium was during the first JV football game. It was scored by Frank Papa, who moved to Largo at the end of that year and graduated in 1978 from there.
The team had a 6-4 record in regular season play, defeating Crystal River 13-7, Land O’ Lakes 19-13, Dixie Hollins 34-22, Zephyrhills 24-15, Pinellas Park 34-0, and Citrus 20-0. The team lost to Pasco 34-0, Tarpon Springs 21-13, Hernando 9-0, and Hudson 14-0. In the Tangerine Bowl, Gulf lost to North Marion 19-7, making a 6-5 record overall. Coach: Jim Riser.
Team record: 0-10. Jim Riser, head coach, 4th year.
Head coach: Jerry Young. Team record: 0-10.
On April 13, 1978, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “After interviewing more than 20 applicants, Gulf High principal Ed Campbell need look no further than his own staff to find a new head football coach. Campbell has chosen Jerry Young, whose entire coaching career has been at Gulf High, as head football coach and will make it official at an early-morning press conference today.”
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Jerry Young.
On Sept. 13, 1979, the St. Petersburg Times reported that this could be the week Gulf ends its losing streak. The last win for the team occurred on Nov. 19, 1976.
On Sept. 27, 1979, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf had two recent 7-6 victories, over Zephyrhills and then Inverness. It reported that students had grown tired of hearing and reading about the team’s losing streak, which ended at 23 games.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Jerry Young.
The team had a 3-7 record, or according to another source, 2-8. Head coach: Jerry Young.
Coach Jerry Young resigned as head coach in November. His four year record was 9-31.
Team record: 0-10. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
On Oct. 5, 1983, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf has lost 18 straight games. “But at least they have an excuse. They play in a tough (Class 4A) league.” The team had only three wins total in 1982-83 and 1983-84.
Gulf had “its best record in years,” 5-5. Gulf snapped an 18-year losing streak to Tarpon Springs, beating the Spongers 14-7. Coach Wilbur Lofton was named the Pasco County football coach of the year.
Team record: 5-5. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
On Sept. 6, 1985, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf (5-5) would face Pasco (8-3) tonight. The Gulf quarterback was Wayne Barber.
Head coach: Wilbur Lofton. Team record: 3-7 including forfeits by Pinellas Park and Largo.
On Oct. 10, 1986, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf lost 63-0 last week.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
Team record: 6-4. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
On Nov. 18, 1988, Gulf defeated Hudson, 21-0. The shutout was the fifth consecutive win for Coach Wilbur Lofton, who was named Coach of the Year by the St. Petersburg Times.
Offensive lineman Jim Watson was named the Times Player of the Year. The After a 1-4 start, Gulf finished with six wins and four losses.
The team had a 2-8 record. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
The team had a 2-8 record. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
Team record: 6-4. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
On Oct. 11, 1991, Gulf defeated River Ridge 56-0. River Ridge was a new school with no senior class.
On Oct. 25, 1991, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf was currently 4-2.
On Nov. 23, 1991, the St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf defeated Zephyrhills 26-14 on Friday night, ending the season with a 6-4 record. (The team was 5-1 or 6-1 in the new Sunshine Athletic Conference.)
The team had a 2-8 record (2-5 in the SAC). Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
The team had a 6-4 record (2-4 in the SAC), or 6-5 including a loss to East Lake in the Gator Bowl. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Wilbur Lofton.
The team had a 3-7 record (3-4 in the SAC). It was Wilbur Lofton’s last year as head coach. He was with the Gulf football program for 13 seasons.
Keith Newton named head coach. Team record: 1-9.
Team record: 3-7. Head coach: Keith Newton.
A notable win by the Bucs occurred on Sept. 26, 1997, when Gulf defeated Tarpon Springs 10-8 on a muddy field at Des Little Stadium. The St. Petersburg Times reported that Gulf "stunned" its home crowd and the Tampa Tribune called it a "stunning" upset. Gulf coach Keith Newton called it "the win of the century." Gulf had lost 19 of the previous 20 games against Tarpon Springs, and had been outscored by the Spongers 227-26 in the previous eight games. The win occurred because of a dramatic fourth-quarter safety, courtesy of a Jason McCue sack of Spongers star running back Atif Austin.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Keith Newton.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Keith Newton.
2000-01Team record: 1-9. Head coach: Keith Newton.
Team record: 2-8. Head coach: Keith Newton.
Team record: 1-9. Head coach: Keith Newton.
Team record: 5-5. Head coach: Keith Newton.
On Oct. 10, 2003, the team improved its record to 4-2 by defeating Tampa Catholic 17-0 in the homecoming game. [It was Gulf’s first shutout since Sept. 24, 1994, when Gulf defeated Clearwater Central Catholic 21-0, and the first homecoming victory since Oct. 28, 1988, when Gulf defeated Zephyrhills, 19-18.]
Team record: 2-7. Head coach: Keith Newton.
Because of Hurricane Frances, a football game scheduled for Sept. 3 was canceled, and a football game scheduled for Sept. 10 was played instead on Sept. 11 at 11 a.m. It is believed to be the first daytime football game for Gulf High School since a game at Tarpon Springs in 1959. Another daytime game was played at Admiral Farragut in 1955. The scoreboard at W. D. "Des" Little Stadium was blown down by winds from the hurricane. Keith Newton’s final season as head coach.
2005-06Head coach: Jay Fulmer, first year. The team had a 5-5 record. Quarterback Alton Voss combined for 2,418 yards (1,314 passing, 1,104 rushing) and 26 touchdowns.
On Sept. 9, 2005, Gulf defeated Citrus High School 68-40. It was apparently the largest number of points scored by a Gulf team in school history. Gulf scored 46 points in the first half.
Gulf lost to Trinity Catholic without quarterback Alton Voss, 66-0.
Team record: 6-5. Head coach: Jay Fulmer.
On Sept. 1, 2006, Gulf defeated River Ridge 40-0. On Oct. 20, 2006, Gulf lost to Trinity Catholic, 60-0.
On Oct. 27, 2006, Gulf clinched its first-ever berth in the state playoff system by defeating Hudson, 41-6. One score came on a 79-yard pass from Alton Voss to Shawn Williamson. Gulf led 41-0 at the half and used backup players in the second half, which had a running clock.
On Nov. 10, 2006, Gulf lost to Bishop Moore High School of Orlando, 24-7, in the opening round of the Class 3A Region 2 playoffs. The loss brought the team’s record to 6-5.
Team record: 4-6. Head coach: Jay Fulmer.
Courtney Cohen, a kicker, became the first girl to play football for Gulf High School.
On Sept. 7, 2007, running back David Williams rushed for 305 yards and four touchdowns to lead the team to a 42-26 win over River Ridge. On Oct. 26 he broke the unofficial Pasco County single-season rushing record.
On Oct. 5, 2007, Gulf defeated Sunlake 66-20. Coach Jay Fulmer used all of the players on the team in the latter part of the game.
Team record: 10-2. Head coach Jay Fulmer, in his third year. On Sept. 12, 2008, Gulf defeated River Ridge 44-7, giving Gulf its first 2-0 start since 1995.
On Sept. 18, 2008, the St. Petersburg Times reported, “Because no archive of Gulf High individual football records seems to exist, we can't proclaim with certainty that junior quarterback Madison Burr’s 307-yard passing effort in Friday’s 44-7 win at River Ridge was a school single-game record. But we feel pretty confident in saying it was. At least for the modern era. Burr’s predecessor, USF signee Alton Voss, never had a 300-yard game, and no one on the coaching staff—including former Bucs head coach Jerry Young (1978-81)—can recall any Gulf signal caller previously eclipsing the 300-yard mark. Burr finished 14-for-21 with three touchdowns, including a 95-yard scoring strike to Tevin Gamble in the fourth quarter.”
On Sept. 19, 2008, Gulf defeated Hernando 37-6, bringing the record to 3-0. It was the best start for a team since 1974-75.
On Sept. 26, 2008, Gulf defeated Wiregrass Ranch 38-7, bringing the record to 4-0.
On Oct. 3, 2008, Gulf defeated Ridgewood 52-28. The 5-0 start tied the school record set in 1941. Adrian “Bubba” Golden apparently set an all-time Pasco County record as he ran over 400 yards and six touchdowns on 34 carries. Two reporters, including one from the St. Petersburg Times had the total as 409. Gulf’s statistician had him at 435, and another local reporter had the total at 434. The Tampa Tribune reported 432 yards.
On Oct 10, Gulf defeated Sunlake 43-2, bringing the record to 6-0, the best start in school history.
On Oct. 25, Gulf defeated Hudson 59-22 in a rare Saturday night game, played as part of an alumni reunion event.
On Oct. 31, Gulf defeated Zephyrhills 30-14. It was the eighth win in eight starts.
On Nov. 7, Gulf lost to Pasco 21-20. Adrian Golden scored a touchdown with about one minute left in the game but the point after kick missed.
On Nov. 14, Gulf defeated East Lake 22-21, making the regular season record 9-1. According to the Tampa Tribune, Adrian Golden set a Pasco County single-season rushing record with 2193 yards, breaking the record set by Byronell Arline, who had 2188 yards in the previous year.
On Nov. 21, Gulf defeated St. Cloud 49-35 at St. Cloud in its second-ever playoff appearance, and first-ever playoff win.
On Nov. 28, Gulf lost to Pasco, 50-0, in the second playoff game of the season. Quarterback Madison Burr did not play because of an injury sustained in the previous game.
According to Andy Villamarzo, tailback Adrian Golden set a single-season record of 2,514 yards in 2008, a county record that stood until 2014.
Head coach: Jay Fulmer. Record: 6-4. Gulf won its first three games, then lost four in a row, for the first time under Coach Fulmer. The team won its remaining three games, including a win over Anclote, a new school with no senior class, 48-6. Gulf led at the half 42-0. Gulf won its final game of the year, defeating Wesley Chapel 58-33. Quarterback: Madison Burr. The roster was small. Only 24 dressed to play in the Land O’ Lakes game. TE/DT Leon Orr fractured his leg in the second game and was out for the rest of the season.
Team record: 7-3 including a forfeit by Land O’ Lakes.
Head coach Jay Fulmer resigned before the start of the season in connection with an allegation two players from another school who transferred to Gulf were recruited. On Sept. 3, the day of the first game, Assistant Coach Ken Hollar was named interim head coach; the announcement was made at a pep rally that afternoon. Record: 7-3 (including a forfeit by Land O’ Lakes). On Oct. 1, Gulf lost to Land O’ Lakes 56-6. On Oct. 8 Gulf lost to Pasco. On Oct. 15 in the game vs Mitchell, quarterback Will Fulmer, a sophomore, the son of former Coach Jay Fulmer, sustained a knee injury and was replaced at quarterback for the remainder of the season by junior Ty'Shon Peters.
Head coach: Tom Carter. Team record: 3-7. The team lost to Pasco 51-0 on Sept. 23.
Head coach: Tom Carter. The team record was 0-10, including a loss to Pasco 63-0 on Sept. 22, and a 58-6 loss to Sunlake on Nov. 9. Gulf was outscored 424-29.
Head coach: Jason Messamore, first year. Record: 1-9.
In the fifth game, Gulf lost to Hudson, 48-7.
On Oct. 25, Gulf lost to Ridgewood in an unusually high-scoring game, 62-54. That brought the team's record to 0-8.
On Nov. 2 Gulf won its ninth game of the season, defeating Wesley Chapel 48-0. According to the Tampa Tribune, the win snapped a 19-game losing streak and Gulf’s last victory had been against Hudson, 33-17 on Oct. 28, 2011. According to the Tampa Bay Times, it was a 20-game losing streak.
Head coach: Jason Messamore.
On Oct. 31, 2014, Gulf defeated Wesley Chapel 36-19, clinching a spot in the playoffs for the third time in school history.
On Nov. 7, 2014, Gulf defeated Mitchell 35-33, concluding an 8-2 regular season.
On Nov. 14, 2014, Gulf lost to Lakewood in a playoff game 30-27 in two overtimes.
Quarterback Keshaun Peters had over 2,000 yards passing for the season. According to Mike Camunas at tbo.com, Peters finished his senior season with 3,053 total yards and 29 total TD.
Head coach: Bruno Buonsanto.
Athletic Director Bruno Buonsanto was named interim head football coach at the start of the seaon after Coach Messamore resigned over health concerns.
Gulf had no wins and lost several games by wide margins, including losing to River Ridge 51-0, Hudson 58-16, and J. W. Mitchell 56-0.
Head coach: Matthew Kitchel. Kitchel was replaced as head coach by Athletic Director Bruno Buonsanto early in the season.
Gulf lost its first game of the season to Sunlake, 62-0.
The Sept. 2 game vs Pasco was canceled because of hurricane Hermine, but made up on Nov. 10. Pasco won the game, 36-0.
On Sept. 16 Gulf lost to Zephyrhills, 62-0.
On Sept. 23 Gulf lost to Wesley Chapel, 50-0.
On Sept. 30 Gulf lost to Anclote 41-0.
On Oct. 8 Gulf lost to River Ridge 55-13.
On Oct. 28 Gulf lost to Hudson 56-0.
The season record was 0-10.
St. Petersburg Times All-Time Best List (1999)Eleven Gulf football players are among the "99 greatest high school players in county history" as picked by the Pasco edition of the St. Petersburg Times on September 3, 1999. The list was compiled by John C. Cotey, Jamal Thalji, and Pete Young. Here are the Gulf students who made the list:
He Quarterbacked Gulf’s First TeamThis article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on March 24, 1984.
By SUSANNA SOMMERER
NEW PORT RICHEY - Football 1930 style.
Quarterbacks 5-6 and 127 pounds. Leather helmets with players having the option to wear no head protection at all. College players being shuffled into high school games.
James Grey, a 1934 graduate of Gulf High, remembers all this and more in recalling his football days of the early '30s,
Grey was on the very first Gulf football team in 1930, a team that won one game. He played quarterback, despite his slight 5-6 build. The team had no regular coach. A Tarpon Springs baker, Bill Machachas [should be Moutsatsos], volunteered to coach the team that first year. Dean Deford later took over the team.
Since the team began during the money scarce years of the depression, the Buc players had second-hand uniforms. Shoes that didn't always match or fit, and used equipment purchased from Clearwater High.
"Most of us were playing in the first game we'd ever watched," said Grey, of the team’s first game that year. "There were only 15 of us on the team so we all went both ways.
"We had shoulder pads and thigh pads but you didn't have to wear a helmet if you didn't want to. Most of the time I didn't because it got in my way."
That’s hard to imagine in these times. But Grey said there were few injuries during those days.
His job of running the team was made even more difficult because quarterbacks couldn't throw two incomplete passes in a row. The team had to use a running play after throwing an incomplete pass.
If a team was losing? No problem. Change jerseys around and insert some of the local college kids who might be home visiting.
Grey said that Largo and Saint Leo (then a high school) did that and came from behind in the second half to beat Gulf.
The Bucs played Clearwater, Hillsborough, Dunnellon, Hernando, Tarpon Springs, Pasco, South Sumter, and Plant during the '30s, and relied on individual cars to get from game to game, until the final season when they finally acquired a bus.
The site of what has become Des Little Stadium was then known as Sandspur Stadium. [Note: this was a different location than Des Little Stadium.] "We worried more about getting sandspurs in our legs and feet than about who was going to tackle us," laughed Grey.
Henry Falany, nicknamed Harpo, was Grey’s favorite receiver. Most of the players had nicknames but Grey said he didn't.
"Football those days is nothing like it was when I played. You could pile on as much as you wanted in the '30s. You thought they were gonna' kill you, but the worst injury I ever suffered were some broken ribs.
“I got hurt when playing baseball,” added Grey, recalling being spiked on the foot and taking a ball in the face.
“I still don't believe they have the camaraderie now that we had then. Everyone was friendly,” said Grey.
After graduation from Gulf in 1934, he attended the University of Florida extension division in Ocala for two years.
He studied real estate, but worked as a service station attendant for several years after finishing school.
You may recognize the Grey name as the local real estate company. Grey’s father Frank established the company in, 1924 and James joined the group in 1940. Since then, Frank has died, and two of James' own sons, John and Charles, have gotten into the business.
Grey’s other children include Frank, who is about to graduate from Stetson law school, Alan, who is running a local grocery, Paul, who spent time in the Navy, James Jr., who attends Ridgewood High, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Linda.
Elizabeth is a nurse in St. Augustine and Linda married into the Little family, who Gulf’s current football stadium is named after.
Several of Grey’s sons have gone on to be stars in their own right at Gulf High.
Grey still enjoys watching football and claims his favorite team is the Tampa Bay Bucs, in spite of their poor season last year.
"I don't have much use for Mr. McKay myself," quipped Grey. "He’s got lots of good players, but he doesn't motivate them."
Motivation -- you know that and a pure love for the game had to be the main force driving Grey and his buddies to play football. There certainly wasn't the glory or money associated with the game then than there is now.
Real Sportsmanship (1938)This article appeared in the Tampa Morning Tribune about Nov. 1938.
By PETE NORTON
This is the story of a football Utopia, a land where a team can lose seven straight games, have 399 points scored against it while scoring none, and still retain the solid backing of every fan, the admiration of every person in the community.
In these days of high pressure football, when players and coaches are thrown to the wolves after each defeat, it is refreshing to run across a coach and a team like Paul Stephens, of Gulf Coast high school, New Port Richey.
Seven times this year Coach Stephens has sent his squad into action, and each time it has been beaten by one-sided scores. The season record reads, 399 to 0, and games with four strong teams remain on the schedule.
Yet the wolves are not howling at New Port Richey, the fans are not demanding a new coach and the boys are not being called quitters each time they drop a game.
In exact contrast, Coach Stephens, who introduced football at Gulf high this year, is just as proud of his youngsters as Dr. Jock Sutherland is of the Pittsburgh Panthers.
When a team has a season record of 399 points to 0, it is news. So we wrote Coach Stephens and asked a few questions about his football team.
How many boys on the squad? What are their weights? How much experience have they had?
Says Coach Stephens: "We have 21 boys on the squad. Not a single one of them had ever played a game of football until this year. Nine of them had never seen a football game until the whistle blew for the opening contest of the season with Clearwater.
"The weights of the boys run from 79 pounds to the giant of the squad, Dave Clark, who tips the scale at 175. Clark is the only player over the 155-pound mark. Seven weigh less than 125 pounds."
Who is the smallest boy on the squad? Wasn't he ruled out of the Tampa College game in Tampa?
"Walter Frierson, a back who weighs 79 pounds, is, I believe the smallest senior high school player in Florida, perhaps in the country. The officials at the Tampa College game would not permit him to play for fear he would be injured by the larger Tampa players."
How do the fans take the numerous beatings the New Port Richey team has been handed this year? Do the boys have a good time playing football, even though they lose? How is the spirit of the squad?
At this point Coach Stephens really goes to town with as fine a recommendation for football in high school as we have seen.
"The people of New Port Richey are proud of the plucky youngsters that form the football squad. They know the boys are light and inexperienced, but now they also know the kids love the game and are learning fast.
"Football was started at Gulf high as an incentive to the boys and it has served that purpose 100 per cent. The boys on the football squad attend school regularly, work harder at their lessons and in general, are better youngsters because they play football.
"Sure, the kids have a good time playing. As a sport, none of them believes football can be excelled. It teaches them to give and take hard knocks with a smile, something they can use all through life. It develops them physically and mentally.
"It is a safe bet to say the spirit of the Gulf high team is as good as that on any prep team in Florida, and that includes teams that have beaten us 10 touchdowns.
"Our youngsters are coached to play the game hard but fairly. That is all anyone can do in sports."
Wouldn't it be a great thing for the game of football if the players, coaches and fans all over the country felt about the game as do the good people of New Port Richey?
Here is a bunch of kids going into every game knowing they haven't a chance of winning, but playing their hearts out and having a grand time.
This column salutes Coach Stephens and the New Port Richey football team.
Fans Still Praise Gulf High Eleven After Long Slump (1938)
This article appeared in the Palm Beach Post on Nov. 8, 1938.
NEW PORT RICHEY, Nov. 7. —(AP)— This is the story of a football Utopia, a place where a team can lose eight straight games, have 443 points scored against it, while scoring none, and still retain the solid backing of the fans and the admiration of folks for miles around.
It all happened in this rural gulf coast community in Southern Florida, whose Rand-McNally population is listed as 826. The school is Gulf High, set in an Orange Grove community, drawing most of its students via school bus for miles around.
This year the school is playing football for the first time, introduced by Coach Paul Stephens because, he related: “We wanted an incentive for the boys to attend school regularly, work harder at their lessons, and be better youngsters.”
The moral lesson has worked, he maintains.
For a football squad, he has 21 players. None of them ever played football before this year. Nine of them never saw a football game before the team’s opening contest with Clearwater High, when they were unmercifully thrashed by a scant margin of 10 touchdowns. But are they downhearted?
“Not on your life,” Stephens reported. “They knew they were outclassed. But they did the best they could. And that’s all anyone can do in sports.”
Since then the team has gene into seven more games, knowing it hasn’t the ghost of a show of winning, but playing their hearts out and having a good time. They don’t know what it is to make a touchdown. Eight times they’ve been whitewashed and seen opponents ring up 443 points against them; but never a squawk, from player or fan.
The players range from 79-pound Walter Frierson, a back, to 175-pound Dave Clark, a guard. Seven weigh less than 125 pounds. Next to Clark the heaviest is 155.
You hear no moans, nor wails nor alibis from Stephens, and the townspeople are solidly back of him and the team.
“The people of New Port Richey,” he says, “are proud of these plucky boys. They know they are light and inexperienced, but the also know the kids love the game and are learning fast.”
1958 Gulf High Football Team ReminiscesThis article appeared in the Tampa Tribune on May 30, 2008.
By CLIFF GILL
NEW PORT RICHEY - Last weekend, the Gulf High School class of 1958 celebrated its 50th reunion. With just 39 seniors, it was one of the smallest graduating classes in the state. The high school, which included students from grades 7-12, had an enrollment that rarely exceeded 300. It was located at Grand Boulevard and Gulf Drive, currently home to the Schwettman Education Center.
The football team had only 14 players on its roster, which meant that nearly every player played on offense, defense and special teams. What the Buccaneers lacked in size, they made up in heart.
Just ask Tom Chittum. Originally from Peru, Ind., Chittum played every down on both the offensive and defensive lines. Standing 6-foot tall and weighing 165 pounds, he was one of the biggest players on the team.
"We had no equipment, no trainers, nothing like today’s players have. We played through injuries. Unless it was a broken bone, the coach taped us up and sent us back in," Chittum said.
Lineman Tommie Boyd agreed. At 135 pounds, Boyd played guard on offense and tackle on defense.
"We came home bandaged up like a bunch of war veterans. But, even though we lost more games than we won, we played our hardest and held our heads high. Having a victory was important, but having character was just as important," he said.
Playing against schools with 50-plus players, the team lost every game during their freshman and sophomore years. In their junior year, they defeated Admiral Farragut 26-6 for their only victory of the season. Their senior year, the Buccaneers won three games.
One of the team’s leaders was running back Orville Williamson. In addition to being Gulf’s leading scorer, Williamson played all positions on offense and linebacker on defense.
"Back then, if the coach told you to snap the ball, you did it. There was no talking back."
The practices were often endurance tests.
"We practiced four, five hours without a water break. You were called a sissy if you drank water," Williamson said.
During one after-school practice, the coach told Williamson to run laps around the field in full equipment. Four hours later, he was still running.
An Odessa native, Williamson walked and sometimes ran to and from school.
"Hardly anyone had a car, so getting a ride was out of the question. Plus, if you saw a bear or a bobcat in the woods, you'd double-time it. Williamson later played college football at the University of Southern Mississippi.
"Orville had heart. He was just tough," teammate Udell Hatcher said.
Organized sports for girls were nonexistent.
"For females, sports were only available in PE class. We were either cheerleaders, majorettes or played in the band," Barbara Cooper recalls. "Like most folks in town, I never missed a football, baseball or basketball game."
Jane Livingston Baillie agreed.
"You went to all the games, because that’s all there was to do in town."
After the games, the teens often went to Sims Park, which had a building that included a jukebox for dancing.
Barbara Brunner was the homecoming queen and a member of the school band.
"We'd support the cheerleaders during timeouts. One of my favorite cheers was:
We're the team
From New Port Richey.'"
Brunner reflected on her time at Gulf High.
"We were the first generation of girls who went to college for a career, although the options were mostly limited to nursing or education," said Brunner, who taught elementary school for 36 years.
"Plus, U.S. Highway 19 was built while we were in high school," she said.
T. Edd Webb: A Name to Remember, Especially Now (1998)This article appeared in the Pasco edition of the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 8, 1998.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
How long was that streak? Thirty-five ... 45 ... 50 games?
It depends on who’s telling the story. Not even T. Edd Webb, coach of the 1956 Gulf High School football team that snapped the atrocious string of losses, knew for sure.
What Webb does know is the 26-6 victory over Admiral Farragut on Oct. 26 was a defining moment in turning the Bucs from doormats into a force the town of New Port Richey, which lived and died with its high school team, could be proud of.
"Our first victory was great," said Webb, whose 1958 team finished 8-2-1, a record the school has not duplicated since. "I never saw a bunch of guys more willing to work. I had no problem getting them into condition."
The memories are more precious now as Webb, 72, fights what has been diagnosed as inoperable intestinal cancer. The coach said he has run the gamut of emotions from fear to anger and denial, but is now "at peace" with his situation.
"I've got a fighting chance," he said. "I'm not going to give up, that’s for sure."
Webb has been a fixture in Pasco County athletics since 1953, when he was an assistant football coach and boys basketball coach at Zephyrhills. In 1956 he came to Gulf as its football coach and athletic director.
He left in 1962 to pursue a career as an insurance agent after leading Gulf to a six-year mark of 28-31-3. It is a remarkable record considering Gulf’s previous ineptitude, and that the school has had just five winning seasons since, none with more than six victories.
"He was probably the best coach Gulf ever had," said Johnny Grey, a wide receiver on the 1960 and '61 teams.
"He brought the community together," said Orville Williamson, a running back/linebacker on the 1956 team.
He did it on the field with discipline and grueling 4-hour practices. He brought in an offense that relied on unbalanced line formations, double reverses and halfback passes.
Jed Pittman, a center on the 1958 team and now clerk of the circuit court of Pasco County, said he recently sent one of those plays to his friend, Florida coach Steve Spurrier.
The play is called a flip-through in which the quarterback flips the ball between the running backs, who are moving toward each other, confusing the defense as to which one will make the play.
"He was very innovative," said Grey, now the president of a real estate company. "He put in a single-wing formation and a bunch of stuff nobody had ever heard of. He was a hard worker, tireless. He'd run with you, wind sprints, and run you till you dropped."
And if you didn't do it right, Webb and his assistant coach, Hap Clark, now a Pasco County commissioner, would get into the scrimmage to demonstrate and, as Grey said, "knock you on your butt."
And speaking of running: Williamson, now the director of special projects for the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office, drew Webb’s ire at practice by being a little too aggressive against his own teammates with a tackling dummy. Webb told Williamson to "get your butt to running until I tell you to stop."
As Webb told the story, 4 hours later Clark came to him in the locker room and said, "Orville’s still running out there."
"I had forgotten about him," Webb said. "He would have run all night rather than let me get the better of him."
For Webb, there is no forgetting the good times. Like Lorie Goodman going 80 yards on the first play of the second half to give Gulf a 12-6 lead over Farragut.
Like the Gulf band lining up outside Farragut’s locker room and playing for 90 minutes to celebrate the end of that 38-game losing streak.
Like getting tossed into the Pithlachascotee River by his players celebrating the victory. And being stopped in town the next day and being forced to make a speech in front of what Webb remembers as 200 people.
Then there are the players like Williamson. "His desire to win was the best of any boy I coached," Webb said.
And 1958 quarterback Gene Little. "Like having another coach on the field."
Webb, who has four children with Maxine, his wife of 49 years, gave back to the community at large as well. He coached Little League until just a few years ago, and helped organize the local Police Athletic League.
"I think the greatest joy I have from the years I coached," Webb said, "was being able to stay and see all the young men I could serve ... "
Composed, he talked again of Gulf football.
"I would dearly love to see somebody break it," he said of his 8-2-1 season, "and get back on the winning side."
Something T. Edd Webb has always been on.
-- Times correspondent Tony Castro contributed to this repport.
Edd Webb: Overcoming the Odds (1999)This article appeared in the Pasco edition of the St. Petersburg Times on Jan. 8, 1999.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Edd Webb keeps a handkerchief handy when he watches television because he never knows when he might cry. Shows concerning children seem to affect him most, especially if there is a happy ending.
For those who remember Webb as Gulf High’s football coach, knocking over players while teaching them to block, the teary image probably doesn't fit.
"I have been different emotionally ever since I found out I had a serious illness," Webb said.
But don't for one minute think Edd Webb has gone soft.
A year ago, the most successful football coach Gulf has ever had was diagnosed with inoperable intestinal cancer and given two weeks to live.
But after 24 chemotherapy and 28 radiation treatments, the 73-year-old New Port Richey resident has gained 35 pounds, takes a daily half-mile walk, cleans the pool, fishes with his grandsons and is even talking about a hunting trip later this month.
He is not cured.
But Dr. Gajanan Kulkarni, the oncologist treating Webb, said he is in "partial remission" and, barring complications, should remain that way "for a long time."
"I truly think the good Lord had something left in the world for me to do," said Webb, who coached from 1956-61 and led the Bucs to an 8-2-1 mark in 1958, a record the school has not duplicated since.
"Maybe it’s just to talk to people with cancer like I had to try to cheer them up. I made some very good friends sitting around waiting rooms."
They are a hearty group with a sense of humor. When Webb enters the doctor’s office, he said the standard greeting is, "Didn't make it to the obituary today."
But the battle was serious business.
"The chemo is second to death," Webb said. "When you're on the chemo, you don't want to do anything. It’s hard to keep from being depressed. You have no strength, no desire to do anything."
When there was talk of organizing a party to celebrate Webb and Maxine’s 50th wedding anniversary last August, Webb said forget it. He was too sick. The treatment not only took Webb’s hair, but his eyebrows and eyelashes.
"I was slick as a mole," he said.
Maxine, who took care of Webb at their home, watched and worried. Though she was "the cheerleader for the kids," she wondered what it would be like to be alone.
"I would miss not being able to say, "Edd, what do you think about this?"' Maxine said. "I would miss having a strong person around who could give you opinions about things."
That strength served Webb well. He was getting better.
And as the treatment shifted from chemotherapy to radiation, the improvements became noticeable.
His strength began to return. He gained weight to his current 202 pounds. He told his physical therapist to stop coming around. He could handle the exercises himself.
His hair grew back.
In July, Webb got an emotional boost from the birth of a grandson, Peyton, to son Clendon. He got another when he began fishing with grandsons Matt and Kyle.
Over time, Webb took on more responsibility. He fired the pool guy, taking cleaning duty himself, and began delivering the payroll to his business, a garbage dump on New York Avenue.
"I might even get up enough nerve to go hunting," he said.
Webb said deer season in Alabama runs though January. Taking advantage would mean a trip to his brother Donnie’s cabin in Camden, which is near their hometown of Coffeeville. It would be a tough trip for someone who said he can't walk more than a half-mile without getting tired.
"One thing he hasn't lost is a mind of his own," Clendon said. "If he decides to go, he’s going to pack up and go by himself. We haven't tried to stop him before. We wouldn't stop him now."
Webb has no intention of stopping or asking his doctor about a long-term prognosis.
"I don't ask, and they don't say you're going to have a certain length of time," Webb said.
But one thing is certain.
"I'm very grateful," Maxine said, "for the extra time we've had together."
Beloved Coach Succumbs to Cancer (1999)This article appeared in the Pasco edition of the St. Petersburg Times on Feb. 1, 1999. The photo of Coach Webb is from the 1959 yearbook.
By JAMES THORNER
Thomas "Edd" Webb, one of the winningest football coaches in Gulf High School history, died Sunday of the cancer that had plagued him for more than a year.
Mr. Webb, 73, was a fixture in Pasco County athletics. In 1953, fresh from his home state of Alabama, he became assistant football coach and boys basketball coach at Zephyrhills High School.
Three years later he took the head football coaching job at Gulf High in New Port Richey.
Mr. Webb took the perpetually losing Bucs and made the team respectable through daily four-hour practices and innovative game plans. His team’s 1958 record of 8-2-1 has never been bested at the school.
He left Gulf High in 1962 to become an insurance agent, but stayed active coaching Little League and men’s softball.
"I guess you could say he was a man’s man," said Johnny Grey, who played wide receiver for Mr. Webb in the early '60s and stayed friends with his old coach through the decades. "He used to tell us players, "You're playing this for fun, right? Then what’s more fun than to win?' "
That winning spirit helped him during his fight against cancer. It was a year ago that Mr. Webb learned the disease was attacking his intestines. Doctors gave him two weeks to live.
Through dozens of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that tested his mettle, Mr. Webb beat the odds for months. His battle with the disease was the subject of a Jan. 8 Times article.
But on Sunday, the illness caught up with him. He died at home surrounded by his family.
Even in his later years, Mr. Webb couldn't resist being the coach.
Grey was among a group of former players who joined their old coach on deer hunting trips to Alabama.
During the excursions, he remembers Mr. Webb lecturing his student athletes, now middle-aged men, about eating right and exercising.
"He was a good friend to lots of people," Grey said. "I'm glad his suffering is over, but we're going to miss him."
Mr. Webb is survived by his wife, Maxine, and three sons, Clendon, Dale and Michael, all of New Port Richey. His daughter, Cynthia Webb-Orenstain, lives in New York.
The viewing will be Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Faupel Funeral Home in Port Richey.
The service will be at 10 a.m. Wednesday at First Baptist Church in New Port Richey.
The Gulf-Hudson Football Rivalry (1999)This article appeared in the Pasco edition of the St. Petersburg Times on Sept. 3, 1999.
By JOHN C. COTEY
It’s here, the 25th anniversary of one of the most fierce, hard-fought rivalries in Pasco County history, a series bitterly contested before yearly overflow crowds of 3,500-4,500 fans, some of whom could not even make it into the gate until the third quarter due to long, winding lines.
Gulf versus Hudson.
You can stop laughing.
Granted, in recent years, with the diminished success of the two programs, their annual meetings have generated about as much excitement as snails racing. But in a time not too long ago, it was The Game.
"You bet it was," said Keith Newton, the Gulf coach who was an assistant and head coach at Hudson from 1976-83. "I remember I was on the other side, and we had a bitter hatred for Gulf. The game you had to win the whole year was the Gulf game. That was it."
Local newspapers touted the game all week, splashing around names like Mike Marlin, Tommy Waugh, Rick Samon, Tony Trancucci, Shawn Crane, Rocky Collins, Ken Highhouse, Jim Pietsch, Mark Bobek and Ralph Simoneau. Often, the results ran on the front page.
And why not? Back then, Hudson, which opened in 1974, and Gulf were the only two west side schools. Both had good programs. In 1976, both schools went to bowl games, and from 1977-79, Hudson was winning eight games every year, culminating in the school’s only playoff appearance.
In '76, Jim Riser, the Gulf coach, said this of the game: "This Hudson game is sort of like Georgia-Florida, LSU-Ole Miss and Auburn-Alabama all wrapped up in one."
Predictably, those were the glory years of the rivalry, sparked by the opening of a new school.
Until Hudson, Gulf’s biggest rival was Tarpon Springs. But in '74, before Hudson’s students had a place to call their own, they actually attended Gulf on double sessions. Gulf students went in the morning, Hudson students in the afternoon.
"Everyone knew each other," said Jerry Young, the Gulf head coach from '78-81. "That’s what made it such a heated rivalry. It was just great.
"I know it sounds weird, but it was like a Florida-Florida State game. It was always the last game of the season, and it was always the game we waited for all season. It was really something."
Young, who Newton said would save up at least one trick play a year just for the game, was the central character in the rivalry’s best -- and most humorous -- moment. We'll call it the Polecat Caper.
In 1979, Hudson coach Wilbur Lofton drew up a fake playbook called the Polecat Offense. Figuring that Young would be desperate considering the Cobras had dominated the series the previous four years (outscoring Gulf 108-20), he dangled the playbook in front of the second-year coach, hoping he would bite.
"We sent it over to Gulf with a kid who knew a lot of the players," said Newton, an assistant coach. "He said he stole it off of Lofton’s desk and brought it over because all of his friends went to Gulf, and he thought he'd be cool and take it."
Young was thrilled. That week, he prepared his team for the Polecat, and when the Cobras lined up in it for the first play, he called the right defense to stop it. His excitement soon turned to mush as he looked across the sideline and saw Lofton, Newton and Paul Girardi, then an assistant at Hudson, laughing hysterically.
"I knew right then (I'd been had)," Young said. "I was mad, but now I think about how funny that was."
Hudson won the game 21-6.
"We lined up in the offense and never ran it again," Newton said. "Then we pleaded amnesia."
Those were the things that defined the rivalry. It was so big that Tampa Bay Buccaneers like Scot Brantley, Curtis Jordan and Mark Cotney -- Young’s roommate at Cameron State -- would make the drive up to watch.
Mind games were at a premium during game week. Young would hang jerseys on the goal posts for his players to hit. Hudson players would wear the names of the players they were going against on their helmets all week. Trash was talked incessantly.
"I remember (in '78) we had dominated Gulf for two years straight, and the game was at Hudson," Newton said. "The game was at 8, and at 10 to 8, Gulf hadn't shown up. I felt something was up. Then at five minutes to 8, they weren't there. All of a sudden, we saw two buses roll up right to gate. Both buses opened, and the players sprinted out in full gear. They had done all their warmups at their own school. When they opened those bus doors, they just came screaming and yelling and sprinting out. Gulf was notorious in those games for coming up with some strange thing."
At the apex of the rivalry, it was all Hudson. The Cobras lost 20-6 their first year of existence but won the next six. Guys like Waugh, who scored two touchdowns in '76 in a 14-0 win and then three more in 1977’s 41-0 win, became local heroes.
Meanwhile, the Bucs were enduring a 24-game losing streak and some of their worst seasons ever. Even so, it never seemed to detract from the Big Game.
"It was a big game, and at that time, we beat 'em up pretty good," said Marlin, who quarterbacked Hudson to wins in '78 and '79 and now is an assistant at River Ridge.
In '81, Young’s final season, the Bucs finally beat Hudson 29-16.
Young’s quote in the paper the next day? "It’s the most important thing that ever happened to me in sports."
It also may have been the worst to happen to the rivalry. Both teams were 1-8 entering the game. The next year, they were both 0-9. In '83, they introduced the Navy-Chasco Jaycees Cup, which went to the winning team. But by then, the rivalry had simmered, with both schools no longer competitive and the ties no longer bound.
Blame it on Ridgewood. When the school came into existence in 1984, it took from both schools, draining talent and turning both programs into football also-rans. In effect, it was a barrier between the Bucs and Cobras, a dam that slowed the wave of disdain until it became a trickle of disinterest.
"It’s a shame what Gulf and Hudson have gone through," said Young, now the girls golf coach at Gulf. "It’s a shame these kids can't put together winning teams. They deserve it."
The rivalry as it was known was dead. The game was moved to the season-opener instead of the finale. The hope being that as the first game it could re-generate interest. But the losing continued and still does to this day.
River Ridge further diluted the talent pool, and today, the west side lacks any concrete rivalry to match what the '70s had to offer.
All that’s left is the memories.
"I still think about it," Newton said. "Stuff like that still brings tingles down your spine. Thinking about that ... is bittersweet."
High School Coach Spending Final Days With Family (2003)This article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Dec. 20, 2003.
By JAMAL THALJI
Former Gulf and Hudson high schools football coach Wilbur Lofton, a popular fixture in Pasco County athletics for two decades, is near the end of his yearlong battle with cancer, his son Dean said.
On Friday the family checked the 68-year-old Lofton out of a Chattanooga, Tenn., hospital so he can spend his final days with family in his home in the Tennessee mountains.
"The doctors on Monday came to my mom and my brothers here and told us that the battle is lost unless a miracle happens," said Dean Lofton, 43, a teacher and coach at Gulf High School who is in Tennessee with the family. "He wanted o come home, he wanted to see his dog, to see the view out the windows and be with family."
Wilbur Lofton spent three seasons at Hudson High School and 13 at Gulf. When he retired in 1995 after 36 years in coaching, he had many friends in Pasco County.
"His heart was as big as his body," said Wesley Chapel High School football coach John Castelamare, "and he was a big man."
Dean Lofton said his father had surgery for colon cancer a year ago. Wilbur Lofton seemed to be doing well up until Thanksgiving, but on Nov. 30 the family checked him into Parkridge Medical Center in Chattanooga when he complained of back pain.
"They found the cancer had spread," Dean Lofton said. "It’s very aggressive and not responding to the chemo(therapy) anymore. He wanted to go home, but today was actually the first day he was alert enough to understand he wasn't going to make it.
"He took it really well. As well as somebody can take it."
Wilbur Lofton’s football career began as a two-way starter for the University of Georgia, playing for renowned coach Wally Butts from 1956 to 1959. He joined Butts' staff, then enjoyed success as a high school coach on his own at Tifton, Ga., and Leesburg.
His biggest successes in Pasco County were at Hudson. Two years after the school opened, Lofton won eight games in each of his three seasons from 1976 to 1978, the only coach with back-to-back winning seasons in school history. After a stint at Tarpon Springs, he returned to the county in 1982, taking over at Gulf.
Wilbur Lofton is with his wife, Ethel, 67; sons Dean, 41-year-old Mike and 40-year-old Keith; and his English bulldog, Missy, the coach’s homage to his alma mater.
When Castelamare coached Ridgewood High School, he enjoyed a fierce rivalry with Lofton’s Gulf teams. He said he spoke to the Loftons Thursday.
"It was real hard talking to him on the phone," Castelamare said. "You're talking about one of the best coaches around. As a man, he'd do anything to help you.
"I enjoyed his friendship. If I ever needed anything, it was like asking a brother."
Retired Coach Wilbur Lofton Dies at 68 (2003)This article appeared in the St. Petersburg Times on Dec. 24, 2003.
By STEVE LEE
NEW PORT RICHEY - Surrounded by family, longtime Pasco County football coach Wilbur Lofton died Sunday (Dec. 21, 2003) at his home in Reliance, Tenn.
Mr. Lofton, who spent a year battling colon cancer, was 68.
"It was a peaceful passing," said Dean Lofton, Mr. Lofton’s son, who coaches Gulf High’s girls cross country and track teams. "We prayed and said our goodbyes."
Mr. Lofton and his wife of 46 years, Ethel, had their retirement home built in 1996 in a town about 75 miles east of Chattanooga.
With a Jan. 30 wedding anniversary approaching, Mrs. Lofton prefers to view their marriage as a 50-year run, explaining that they began dating in 1953.
Mr. Lofton, a soft-hearted man with a gruff exterior, coached for 13 seasons at Gulf High and three at Hudson. The Cobras and Buccaneers each had three winning seasons under Mr. Lofton.
Before that, Mr. Lofton was a fullback/linebacker at the University of Georgia and had a one-year stint (1960) with the New England Patriots.
In 1970, Mr. Lofton had his most successful high school coaching season, guiding Leesburg to a state runnerup finish.
"He loved working with young people," his wife said. "I know that’s kind of a cliché with all coaches, but it was true. He loved the kids."
Gulf coach Keith Newton, an assistant on Mr. Lofton’s Hudson and Gulf teams for 11 seasons, became Gulf’s head coach when Mr. Lofton retired in 1995 after 36 years of coaching.
"He had a big heart," Newton said. "No. 1, he was a very tough person out on the football field. But he had a very big heart, and the kids knew it.
"Wilbur always acted very gruff, but he had a soft heart."
Dean Lofton, 43, played football on his father’s teams, as did his brothers Mike and Keith. Dean Lofton coaches cross country and track at Gulf, and Mike Lofton coaches middle school football in Winder, Ga.
"I find myself just being a lot like him," said Dean Lofton, who this fall was named the St. Petersburg Times All-Pasco County Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year for a third straight season. "I'm quick to react. If (Gulf’s runners) do something I don't like, I'm quick to let them know."
"He was an intense person," Mrs. Lofton said of her husband. "When he was on the field, it was total concentration. He didn't think of anything else but what he was doing."
Added Newton, who learned the X’s and O’s as well as the nuances of the game from Mr. Lofton, "Probably the largest part of my knowledge comes from him."
Among the things Mrs. Lofton will miss is watching football with her husband, especially college games on Saturdays. And she has fond memories of watching from the stands as he coached.
"I hardly ever missed a game," she said. "It was important for me, and it was important for Wilbur. He liked me to be there."
"(Football has) been everything to him," Dean added. "We were his and his teams' biggest fans. It was just our way of life, football."
Part of Mr. Lofton’s extended family includes former players, such as Mike Napier, the quarterback for Leesburg’s state finalist team. Napier, a minister in Birmingham, Ala., will preside over Saturday’s 2 p.m. funeral in the chapel at the Ralph Buckner Funeral Home in Etowah, Tenn.
"He’s been calling Wilbur the past year or so and talking with him and praying with him over the phone," Mrs. Lofton said.
The Loftons moved often before settling in Hudson.
"Probably moving down to the Pasco area was the best move we ever made," Dean Lofton said. "We made our lifelong friends there."