Wharton High School Head Coach David Mitchell (with football) brought the school's athletic director and three players with him to One Buccaneer Place to meet Head Coach Jon Gruden
The Wharton High School football team knows the significance of home-field advantage; on September 19, the Wildcats upset the visiting East Bay Indians, 22-19.
Under the direction of Head Coach David Mitchell, the Wildcats overcame the sixth-ranked Indians for their first win of the season. East Bay's potent offense, which averaged more than 300 rushing yards in its first two games, was limited to 147 yards on 34 carries by Wharton's defense. The Wildcats also controlled the clock, running 51 plays to East Bay's 35 and amassing 213 yards and 14 first downs.
"It was a great ball game," said Mitchell. "Our defense played very well, our offense played well and we had a great game. We really came together."
As a result, Mitchell was named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers High School Coach of the Week for Week Three of the 2008 season, and that gave him an opportunity to visit the Buccaneers home. Mitchell, along with Wharton Athletic Director Mike Rowan and three players — seniors Jarus Jones and Chase Boswell and junior Shane McEwen — were invited to One Buccaneer Place Thursday morning for a tour of the team's practice facility and an opportunity to watch the Buccaneers' morning walk-through session.
Following practice, Buccaneers Head Coach Jon Gruden greeted the group and congratulated the Wildcats on their impressive win over East Bay. During the visit, Gruden talked with the students about the importance of playing with heart and protecting your home field.
"I'm going to take his advice to heart and lift my team up like Coach Gruden asked me to do", said Jones.
Along with a signed certificate and personalized football presented by Coach Gruden, Mitchell received $1,000 towards the Tigers' football program.
"I really appreciate the Tampa Bay Buccaneers presenting me with the Coach of the Week award," said Mitchell. "It's just amazing. I really treasure this."
The Buccaneers will honor ten 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.