Both Dave Raley and Jon Gruden have presided over very successful teams in 2008
The Hernando Christian Academy Lions have accomplished a feat of which most teams only dream: an undefeated season.
Last Saturday, HCA defeated the St. Petersburg Canterbury Crusaders 26-24, completing a perfect season for the first time in school history. In fact, under the direction of Head Coach Dave Raley, the Lions became only the second team ever in Hernando County to run the table, and the first since Hernando High School did it in1949. HCA's final regular season victory secured the Sunshine State Athletic Conference Southern Division title, and on Saturday night the Lions will take on Mount Dora Bible for the conference crown.
As a result of HCA's perfect season, Raley was named the Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week for Week Nine of the 2008 season. Raley, along with Athletic Director Mike Drummond, Defensive Coach Joe Decker and senior quarterback David Rotteveel, were invited to One Buccaneer Place Friday morning for a tour of the team's practice facility and an opportunity to watch the Buccaneers' practice. Following the team's workout, Tampa Bay Head Coach Jon Gruden congratulated the group on the Lions' perfect season and encouraged Rotteveel to continue working hard to succeed at the next level.
"He almost said the same as [my coaches] here, and I know that these guys love me and sometimes may tell me the stuff I want to hear," said Rotteveel. "But Coach Gruden, for as long as he's been a Buccaneers coach, he definitely tells it like it is and so it was encouraging to hear it."
Along with a signed certificate and personalized football presented by Coach Gruden, Raley received $1,000 towards the Lions' football program.
"It was a great blessing to be able to come and have this experience with the Buccaneers," Raley said following the visit. "It makes all the difference in the world for our program, being a small program up in the country. Particularly here in Hernando County, in the northern part of the Tampa Bay area, to even be considered to be a part of the Buccaneers experience has been a real blessing for us, and we thank the Buccaneers."
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 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.