Producing a competitive prep football team can be difficult for a program in its first season. Imagine the challenge when the entire school is brand new.
Fivay High School Head Coach Chris Taylor took on that challenge, and just one month into the Falcons' first season, he is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week
Fivay High School opened its doors for the first time in August, and it went its inaugural football season with one of the youngest rosters in Pasco County, composed predominantly of freshman and sophomores. After a season-opening shutout loss at home to Central, the Falcons were in need of a boost, but a trip to Hudson High School wasn't going to make things any easier.
Somehow, in a game already billed as the "Crosstown Classic," the Falcons' underclassmen played like seniors. Trailing by three and pinned at their own one-yard line with 2:52 remaining in the game, the Falcons produced a miracle comeback behind sophomore quarterback Tyler Degen. Completing passes of 12, 16, 17 and 18 yards, Degen and the Falcons marched 99 yards against the hometown Cobras, capping off the impressive drive with a three-yard scoring run by sophomore running back Aaron.
"It meant a lot," said Taylor of the program's win. "It was an opportunity for the community to feel excited about the brand new school, for the student body of the school to start getting excited about athletics and football."
On Thursday, Taylor was invited to One Buccaneer Place to receive his award. Accompanied by wide receiver James Bullock and Offensive Line Coach Tim White, Taylor received a tour of the facility and watched a portion of the Buccaneers' practice. At the conclusion of the Bucs' workout, Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and offered congratulations on the program's first victory.
"It's a very impressive honor" said Taylor. "It's an honor not only for me but for Fivay High School and our football program that we're just now establishing and all the young kids that are playing for us."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Taylor received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards the Falcons' football program.
"Trust me it's going to mean a lot," said Taylor of the donation. "We're still trying to set traditions and standards that we want to have. We have ideas and this donation is definitely going to help in establishing those traditions."
The Buccaneers will honor 10 high school coaches from West Central and Central Florida during this year's prep football season. 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 NFL'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.