On Friday, October 12, the Sickles Gryphons faced the undefeated Hillsborough High School Terriers in a critical Class 6A-8 matchup, with postseason hopes hanging in the balance,
Thanks to a standout performance by sophomore Ray Ray McCloud, who rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns, the Gryphons kept those hopes alive and secured one of the biggest wins in school history.
Facing a team they had never beaten, the Gryphons edged the Terriers in dramatic fashion, 23-22. As a result, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have named Sickles Head Coach Brian Turner their High School Coach of the Week for Week Seven of the 2012 season.
To Turner, the win was just the next step towards the ultimate goal for Sickles' football program.
"To go to the playoffs would be a great feat, but our goal is to win a state championship," Turner said. "When we were put in this district two years ago, everybody pretty much wrote us off and thought that we would never have a chance."
On Thursday, Turner was invited to One Buccaneer Place to receiver his award and enjoy a tour of the Buccaneers' state-of-the-art training facility. He was accompanied by his father, Billy Turner, as well as assistant coaches Kirk Karsen and Antoine Cash, the latter of whom was a linebacker for the Buccaneers from 2006-07. After the tour, the group was invited to watch the Buccaneers' practice. Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano greeted the guests on the practice field and presented Turner with a Coach of the Week certificate, an embroidered hat and a $1,000 donation towards the school's football program.
Turner was honored to receive such recognition from the Buccaneers, but he was most pleased that his coaches got to share in the experience.
"Everyone dreams about coaching at the professional level, so for them to be here for even a few hours, that is the best thing for me," Turner said.
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.