When Jesuit High School hired James Harrell to be their new varsity football coach in 2010, students, parents and teachers had high hopes for what the team could accomplish this season. More than halfway through the campaign, it appears the school's new hire is paying off.
With a team made up largely of upperclassmen, the Tigers' experienced group has grown even wiser under Harrell, a veteran of eight NFL seasons. Entering its October 8 contest versus Lennard, Jesuit was 5-0, having outscored its opponents by a combined total of 121-58. A stifling defense and a powerful offense had paved the way to an undefeated start, and entering the second half of the season the Tigers looked to keep the trend alive.
To no one's surprise, they did just that.
From the first whistle until the last, the Tigers dominated all aspects of the game. While rolling up 42 points, Jesuit gave up just 180 total yards to Lennard and did not allow a Longhorn first down until midway through the third quarter. Senior quarterback Patton Chillura led the Tigers' explosive offense, completing 15 of 17 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns, while also rushing for a fourth score. By game's end, the scoreboard read 42-7, signifying another complete effort by the new coach's squad.
"One thing is just attention to detail," said Harrell of his team's performance. "Just continually, week-in and week-out, emphasizing the fundamentals, attention to detail, discipline, hard work and making sure that they understand that we play one game at a time, one play at a time."
As a result of Jesuit's fast start, Harrell was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week for Week Six of the 2010 season. On Thursday, Harrell was invited to One Buccaneer Place along with assistant coaches Ty Alvarez, Evalio Harrell, Mike McEnany and Brian McNulty. The five received a tour of the facility and watched the Buccaneers practice before Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and offered congratulations on the dominant start to the Tigers' season.
"It's quite an honor be named Coach of the Week," said Harrell. "It's not something you really work for in terms of expecting to get it or anything, you just go out and try to do the best job you can do week-in and week-out, and fortunately when you do the right thing, good things happen to you."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Harrell received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards Jesuit's football program.
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.