With a stunning 19-17 upset win over 7A District 7 rival Gaither High School last Friday, the Chamberlain Chiefs are defying the usual expectations of Hillsborough County high school football.
By defeating the previously division-leading Cowboys, the Chiefs under first-year head coach D.J. Mayo have won four games, doubling the team's victory total from a year ago. As a result, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have named Mayo their High School Coach of the Week for Week Nine of the 2012 season.
While Mayo's ultimate goal is to bring a football championship to Chamberlain, he believes that will not be possible unless his players perform well academically.
"This was the first time that we had nobody with an F," Mayo said. "They are starting to understand that if you do the right things in the classroom, that it will translate on the field."
On Thursday, Mayo was invited to One Buccaneer Place, where he was accompanied by Chiefs players Anthony Davis, Jermaine Gilyard and Dakarai Highsmith. The group enjoyed a tour of the Buccaneers' state-of-the-art training facility and was invited to watch the team practice. During the visit, the Chiefs were greeted and congratulated by Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano, who presented Mayo with a Coach of the Week certificate, an embroidered hat and a $1,000 donation towards the school's football program.
Mayo knew his players appreciated the opportunity to visit the Buccaneers' facility but he hopes to see many of his players at a more important event in a few years.
"The seniors I have this year, I need to be at their college graduations," Mayo said. "We need to produce productive citizens."
The Buccaneers will honor 10 high school coaches from Central Florida during this year's prep football season. During the Buccaneers' road trip to Minnesota last week, the team also honored Seffner Christian Academy Head Coach Steve Lewis as their Coach of the Week for Week Eight. Lewis' Crusaders erased a nine-point deficit in the game's final three minutes to defeat Merritt Island, 24-23.
A Coach of the Year, who receives an additional $1,000 for his football program, will be selected from the 10 weekly winners at the end of the season. The Buccaneers and the National Football League's Coach of the Week program aids in the development of youth football, which has a positive influence on young athletes and the communities in which they live.