Seminole High's Sam Roper accepts his award from the Bucs' Jon Gruden
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers won at least nine games per season and reached the playoffs for four consecutive years from 1999-2002. In roughly the same period (1999-2003) Seminole High School's football team achieved a similar level of success in the Bay area. Under Head Coach Sam Roper, the Warhawks reached the state playoffs and recorded two 10-0 regular seasons during that span.
Seminole is 4-4 so far in 2004, and on Wednesday the Buccaneers recognized Coach Roper as their "High School Coach of the Week." Roper recently earned his 100th career victory at Seminole High. He watched the Buccaneers' Wednesday morning practice and toured the team's training facility prior to receiving his award from Head Coach Jon Gruden.
"This is a great honor," said Roper. "Any time you're honored by your peers or professional football, I think it's something that goes down in your memories as a great thing. It's great that the Buccaneers are willing to recognize people's accomplishments."
Coach Roper has 32 years of experience at the high school level. After graduating from the University of West Florida in 1972, he joined the coaching staff at Clearwater High School as offensive line coach. After being promoted to both defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, Roper was hired as head coach at Seminole in 1985. Now in his twentieth year at the helm of the Seminole program, Roper coached the Warhawks to a 15-12 victory over St. Pete High School last week to earn his 100th career win.
"(Getting 100 wins) is something that just comes along," said Roper. "I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing because if you hang around long enough you'll eventually get it. I guess there are some people who coach all their lives and never reach 100. I'm really fortunate that I've been blessed with good coaches and great family support – I give a lot of the credit to them."
Coach Roper's impact has been felt away from Seminole as well, though. He founded the Pinellas All-Star Football Classic ten years ago, and it is now considered by college recruiters to be the best all-star game of its kind. In 2001, he was selected as head coach of the United States team that competed in the Global Junior Championships, which are held annually in conjunction with the Super Bowl. Coach Roper was also voted by his peers to serve as chairman of the Florida High School Athletic Association Football Advisory Board for 2003-2004.
Roper was presented with a framed "Coach of the Week" award signed by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Buccaneers General Manager Bruce Allen and Gruden. He also received a football autographed by Gruden. In addition, a $1,000 donation to his football program will be awarded.
If you know a coach that you feel is deserving of being the Buccaneers "Coach of the Week" please click here and submit his or her name, school, county and reason he or she should be selected.
Several factors are taken into account when selecting the Buccaneers Coach of the Week recipient, including the coach's impact on his team, school and community. The program is designed to recognize high school coaches who transform, through their hard work and dedication to young people, the best available athletes into high-potential football players.
All schools in Hillsborough, Pasco, Pinellas, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota are eligible regardless of size, league or division.