Facing a 24-point deficit at halftime last Friday night, Mike Jalazo and his Northeast High School Vikings proved that hard work and perseverance will pay off in the end.
In an improbable second-half comeback, Northeast climbed out of a 31-7 hole and defeat Tarpon Springs, 41-37. As a result of the Vikings' thrilling come-from-behind victory, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have named Jalazo their High School Coach of the Week for Week Five of the 2012 season.
The Vikings' head coach explained how his team dug that nearly insurmountable hole, and how they managed to overcome it.
"Our focus was off," Jalazo said. "We were late for team meal, we were late for other things and those kinds of things are what lose football games."
Fortunately, Jalazo and his Vikings refused to quit. Rebounding from a first half full of missed blocks and blown defensive coverages, the team executed well on both sides of the ball after the intermission, outscoring Tarpon Springs 34-6 in the final two quarters.
On Tuesday, Jalazo was invited to One Buccaneer Place, where he was accompanied by quarterback Ryan Davis, running back Keith Harring, linebacker Auggie Sanchez, and Athletic Director Greg Zornes. The group enjoyed a tour of the Buccaneers' state-of the art training facility and were invited to watch practice. During the visit they were greeted and congratulated by Bucs Head Coach Greg Schiano, who presented Jalazo with a Coach of the Week certificate, an embroidered hat and a $1,000 donation to his school's football program.
Jalazo was grateful for the donation and stressed that while athletics can play an important role in a student's development, academics must always take priority.
"We are putting in a system where every kid and his family will set academic calendars from their freshman year," Jalazo said. "For us, this has got to be about academics first."
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 the 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.