Defense wins championships.
That's an NFL truism, and one Tampa Bay Buccaneer fans saw in action in 2002, when the Bucs' top-ranked defense led them to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII. Tampa Bay Head Coach Raheem Morris traces his coaching roots back to that season and still expects his defense to lead the way. The mantra he repeats to his defense day after day: "Your job is to score and get the ball back."
Apparently, Wiregrass Ranch Head Coach Jeremy Shobe preaches the same message to his young team.
In the school's five wins this season, the Bulls have limited their opponents to an average of one touchdown a game, outscoring those teams by a combined total of 134-35. One of those victories came on Friday, October 29, as Wiregrass Ranch defeated the River Ridge Knights, 28-6. With the win, Coach Shobe and his staff secured the school's first playoff berth and the 4A District 6 title, giving the Bulls the first district title in school history. As a result, Shobe also earned the Buccaneers Coach of the Week award for Week Nine of the 2010 season.
"It's just an honor to be the first in history to be able to do that," said Shobe of the coveted district title. "I just am very humbled and proud to be at Wiregrass and to be the team's coach. To all the people that provided me the opportunity to be the first to be able to do this, it's a great feeling."
The Bulls came out firing against River Ridge. On the first offensive play of the game, junior running back Jamel Nunez scored on an 86-yard touchdown run. The offensive onslaught continued with a four-yard touchdown scamper by senior running back Nick Lomba and then the defense got into the act with a second-quarter 102-yard interception return for a touchdown by senior cornerback Antwan Prince. With a healthy lead in place, the Bulls' defense did the rest. With the win, the Bulls stayed undefeated in league play and hope to finish district play undefeated as they take on Hudson on Friday, November 5.
On Thursday, Shobe was invited to receive his award at One Buccaneer Place, and he was accompanied by Principal Ray Bonti, Assistant Principal and former Buccaneer Jimmy DuBose and Offensive Line Coach Jim Jensen. The four received a tour of the facility before Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and offered congratulations on the school's first district title.
"It's just a great honor," said Shobe when asked about what it meant to be named Coach of the Week. "I feel blessed. It's just one of the biggest opportunities I've ever been provided and I'm very humble and proud and it's just a great feeling."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Shobe received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards Wiregrass Ranch's football program.
"It means a lot to our kids because we are going to take the money and buy some playoff shirts for them and give back to the kids because they are the ones that put in all the hard work," said Shobe of the donation. "We are going to make sure that the kids notice that it's their hard work that earned this money."
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.