Following an eight-year stint as Largo High School's defensive coordinator, Matt Lepain was given the chance to direct the football program at another Pinellas County school, Palm Harbor University High. For the only public school in Pinellas County to have never played in the postseason, the addition of Lepain could help the Hurricanes end things differently this year.
"I always set a goal," Lepain said. "When I first got here, I wanted these kids to realize that I want to practice during Thanksgiving week, because that would put us in the second round of the playoffs. I'm not deviating from that goal…If we can make that happen, we'll be making school history."
Lepain's determination and drive, backed by a history of notable accomplishments, made him the perfect candidate for Palm Harbor's open head coaching position. The former defensive coordinator led Largo High's defense to nine shutouts over the 2007 and 2008 seasons, two years in which the team made consecutive state semifinal appearances.
This year, Lepain looks to turn around Palm Harbor's losing trend, which has seen only one winning season in school history. He got the Hurricanes off to a good start with a 3-1 record, including high-scoring road victories against St. Petersburg and Seminole.
On Thursday, Lepain was invited to stop by One Buccaneer Place as the Buccaneers' High School Coach of the Week for Week Four of the 2011 Season. Coach Lepain, along with assistant coaches Chris Carothers, Mike Maullaney, Brad Sakevich, John Adkins, Ryan Vaught and Eugene Davis, visited the Buccaneers' training facility for a tour of the team's headquarters.
"Being able to be a part of the Bucs, it's a big plus," Lepain said. "Having them recognize us high school football coaches, that just makes us feel even happier about what we're doing."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Lepain received a $1,000 donation to go towards Palm Harbor's football program.
"As far as him deserving this award, I think nobody deserves it more than him," Davis said. "He's very diligent at his job. He's really concerned about the kids and the coaching staff as well."
Added Lepain: "Letting the kids know that I got this Coach of the Week honor gave them the testament that their hard work is paying off.. People are starting to find out about Palm Harbor. We're not necessarily thought of as the stepchildren of Pinellas County anymore."
The Buccaneers will honor 10 high school coaches from 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.