With more than 30 years of coaching under his belt, Seffner Christian High School's Steve Lewis is considered a football aficionado. But in the veteran's extensive history of gridiron leadership, he has never built a team from scratch —at least, not until last year.
In 2010, Lewis took charge of the Seffner Christian Crusaders, the brand new football team at a small private school. The Crusaders faced numerous struggles during their inaugural football campaign and unsurprisingly had difficulty corralling wins. However, through the first five weeks of its second season, the young team has already surpassed its total number of points scored last year.
"Last Spring, I recognized that we had some talent in the particular area of spread offense," Lewis said. "The assistant coaches have done a great job at putting points on the board."
The Crusaders' latest victory, a 42-6 defeat of Temple Christian, not only incited praise for the Crusaders' explosive offense but also earned their head coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' High School Coach of the Week Award for Week Six.
"[Coach Lewis] is just a really good guy to look up to," said tight end Garrett Saunders. "He's got a real good heart. He could tell you the number and the name of every player on the team. He is hard working and committed to the team."
Saunders posted impressive numbers in the Crusaders latest win, performing well on both sides of the ball against Temple Christian. The senior rushed for 105 yards on nine carries, including a 22-yard touchdown run. On defense, he posted three solo tackles, one deflected pass and a safety.
On Thursday, Saunders joined his head coach and several teammates as special guests at One Buccaneer Place. Saunders, Coach Lewis and his wife Debbie, along with Coach Stu Weiss, junior defensive lineman Seth Lewis and senior quarterback Tanner Richardson, visited the Buccaneers' training facility for a tour of the team's headquarters.
"Tampa Bay is a special place, and the Bucs have always done things like this for the community and for the schools," Lewis said. "This is one of the top things that's ever happened to me. In 38 years, a lot of things have happened, but this is definitely in the top three."
Along with a signed certificate, Buccaneers hat and personalized football presented by Buccaneers Head Coach Raheem Morris, Lewis received a $1,000 donation to go towards Seffner Christian's football program
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 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.