Durant Head Coach Mike Gottman (holding football) was joined by Assistant Coach Todd Long (left), wife Lisa Gottman (second from left) and Assistant Coach Kevin Kelley (right) as he received his award from Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris
It went down to the wire, but the Durant Cougars defeated the Sickles Gryphons in a battle of 5-1 teams last Friday, in the process earning the Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week award for their head coach, Mike Gottman…The school will receive $1,000 to apply to their football program
The Durant High School Cougars were trailing the Sickles High Gryphons by one with six minutes remaining last Friday when Durant Head Coach Mike Gottman called on two of the Cougars' biggest playmakers to deliver in crunch time. Quarterback Je'Twan Smith and wide receiver David Claypool responded.
Smith directed a 13-play, 80-yard drive, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Claypool with 28 seconds remaining, to give Durant win. It was an impressive victory in a contest that pitted two powerful 5-1 teams, and it earned Gottman the Tampa Bay Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week award for Week Seven of the 2009 season.
The winning play, called Z Cobra and often used by Gottman to convert long third downs, was called especially for Claypool, who made a diving catch near the right sideline in the end zone. "[My coaches] were real trustworthy," Claypool told reporters after the game. "As soon as I shouted the play out, they just went with it. It was lovely."
The Cougars' fourth win in a row moved Durant to 6-1 on the season. The Cougars will enjoy a bye week before hosting the Plant City Raiders on October 30.
Coach Gottman didn't stray far from football during the bye week, however, as he, his wife Lisa and assistant coaches Kevin Kelley and Todd Long visited One Buccaneer Place Wednesday morning. The Durant group was given a tour of the team's training facility and an opportunity to watch the Buccaneers practice. Following the team's morning session, Head Coach Raheem Morris greeted the group and congratulated Durant on the win over Sickles and the Coach of the Week honor.
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football, Gottman received $1,000 towards the Cougar's football program. The Durant coaches knew they could put the funds to great use.
"It's going to be great," Kelley said. "We're going to put that money right back into the facility we're building for the kids. It's so nice to come out again, because I had been able to tour it one time before. Coming through you see things the second time that you didn't see the first time. It's nice for us and we appreciate the Bucs for recognizing us."
Added Gottman: "It's an honor. This isn't about me, it's about the program – Durant High School – and the staff. I wish I could bring them all here. It's an honor to come and it's an exciting experience to see One Buc Place because it's the first time I've ever been through here. We're building a new weight room and locker room and I'm thinking the money will go towards new lockers. I appreciate everything."
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 ten 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.