On Friday, September 3, Bishop McLaughlin Catholic High School posted a 38-21 win over visiting Faith Baptist Christian High School, securing the Hurricanes' first win of the season. For Matt Nardo, who took over the team's reins this fall after two years as an assistant, the game also marked his first victory as a head coach.
Due to this milestone and an outstanding performance by his Hurricanes, Nardo was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' High School Coach of the Week for Week One of the 2010 season.
"It's a great honor," he said. "It shows how hard our team has worked, how hard our staff has worked. It shows that everything we do has come through for us. It's truly just a team thing. It's a product of our hard work."
Up 17-13 in the third quarter, the Hurricanes blew open a close game with a string of big plays. Led by quarterback Mitch Ritter, whose steady play included two rushing touchdowns, Bishop McLaughlin extended its lead with a 15-yard scoring dash by Jordan Betancourt, a 30-yard touchdown reception by Christian Nummy and a five-yard scoring run by Giovanni Perone. Kicker Tiger Williams added a 33-yard field goal.
"It was amazing, it was a great experience," said Nardo. "The kids brought it to life for me. They were outstanding, the fan support was outstanding. This was something I've been looking forward to since I got into coaching and I'm glad it happened with this group of kids."
On Thursday, Nardo was invited to One Buccaneer Place along with assistants James Violante, Paul Padilla and John Yaratch for a tour of the Buccaneers' training facility. Following Tampa Bay's practice, Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and congratulated Nardo on the Hurricanes' impressive start to the season.
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Coach Morris, Nardo received a $1,000 donation from the NFL Youth Football Fund to go towards the Hurricanes' football program.
"Any time you're still trying to build something, everything helps," said Nardo of the donation. "So a donation like this from the Buccaneers is definitely something that will go a long way towards continuing to build our 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.