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Mitchell football coach Scott Schmitz retiring after 36-year coaching career

Posted Nov 22, 2013 by Mike Camunas

Updated Nov 22, 2013 at 11:51 AM

A Pasco County coaching legend is stepping down, but not leaving entirely.

Mitchell football coach Scott Schmitz told the Tampa Tribune on Friday morning that, after a 36-year coaching career, he is retiring from the football program he started in 2000.

“It was just time,” said Schmitz, who was the longest-tenured football coach in Pasco County. “I’m still going to be their biggest fan, I’m still going to be at games because this program has a special place in my heart. ... I still want the best for them, but this idea had been floating around in my head for a few weeks now and this is about devoting more time to myself, my family — I have granddaughters and I want to spend more time with them.
“But its been a great ride.”

Schmitz, 58, will continue to teach at Mitchell, he says, for two to three more years before he and his wife of 38 years “retire to the golf course.” Schmitz is not in the school district’s DROP program, however, but feels now is time better spent “taking care of myself and not putting myself on the back burner.”

“There’s be a lot of kids over the years and I always put them first,” Schmitz added. “And I still want every chance for them and the new kids to be successful at football and school, but I’m going to miss that locker room and Friday nights. If you’ve ever been in a locker room or on the sideline on Friday, then you know what I’m talking about.”

This isn’t the first time Schmitz has left Mitchell’s football program. In 2008, Schmitz “resigned” from the position because of issues at the school at the time. Brian Wachtel, now Land O’ Lakes’ football coach, was brought in for two seasons, but was asked to step down in December 2010. Schmitz would return to the position thanks to longtime friend and Mitchell principal Jim Michaels.

“I"ve enjoyed the past three seasons,” said Schmitz, who went 18-12 in his second stint. “Everyone has been very supportive of this decision and I’m thankful for that because I’m always going to be a Mustang.”

Prior to coming to Mitchell, Schmitz was hired at River Ridge in 1990 by Michaels, who was athletic director at the time, to also start the football program, only to go 43-51 and reach the postseason three times in nine seasons. Schmitz was also a high school football head coach in Illinois for seven years before moving to Pasco and taking an assistant coaching position at Ridgewood for six seasons (1985-90).

Schmitz was 57-63 in 12 seasons coaching Mitchell that includes reaching the playoffs three-straight years from 2002-04 and has a 100-114 career record in Pasco County.

Even when Schmitz was away from coaching football for those two seasons, he was never far away. Schmitz, who not only attended every game Friday night, was also the girls golf coach, which included taking the team to the state tournament in 2009.

Schmitz said he told players, Michaels and athletic director Ian Mooney of his decision Friday morning and that it was emotional, but the announcement was supported by those in attendance. Schmitz added he wanted to make administration aware of his decision as soon as possible so “they can hire someone before Christmas, if that’s what they want.”

However, there’s the possibility a Schmitz will coach Mitchell next year, as Scott’s son, Andy, is a football assistant with the team and will likely apply for the job.

“I’m sure it will draw many good candidates, but it would be great to see him get it,” Scott added.

As Schmitz reflects on his long career that includes starting two football programs, he fondly remembers the friendships forged over the years, including the one with the late, longtime Land O’ Lakes coach John Benedetto.

“I miss my friend John,” Schmitz said. “I’m going to miss the friendships and the memories because I tell kids all the time that that’s the best part of playing and the job. There will be parts of the job I don’t miss — at all. But I will miss the players. I will miss Friday nights on the sidelines. I will miss the memories, but I will miss the locker room most of all.”

Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.

Boys Basketball: St. Pete High hosting Bay area tip-off classic

Posted Nov 12, 2013 by Nick Williams

Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 05:23 PM

* Location of games:  St Petersburg High School, 2501 5th Ave North, St Pete Fl. 33713

Thursday, Nov 14

5:15 Sickles ( tampa )  v Bradenton Southeast

6:30 Jesuit ( tampa )  v Gibbs ( St Pete )

8:00 Lakewood (St Pete )  v St Petersburg High

Saturday, Nov 16

5:15 Bradenton Southeast v   Jesuit

6:30 Sickles v Lakewood

8:00 St Pete v Gibbs

Jesuit/TC Notebook: Freshman RB Davis shines in spotlight

Posted Nov 9, 2013 by Bart O'Connell

Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 01:36 AM

TAMPA—In his first experience of playing in a big high school football rivalry game, Jesuit freshman RB Malik Davis appeared to be the most comfortable offensive player on the field during Friday’s 13-9 win against Tampa Catholic.

The speedy 5-foot-10 runner provided most of the Tigers’ early-game offensive spark. His first five carries all went for at least 10 yards, and he finished with 12 carries for 124 yards on the night.

“Not at all, I wasn’t surprised,” said Jesuit coach Matt Thompson of Davis. “He’s going to be one of the best backs in this area.”

Davis did not start, but came in late on Jesuit’s first offensive drive and posted back-to-back runs of 11 and 13 yards, setting up the first of two Rliett Waldron field goals.

He rushed the Tigers into field goal range again two drives later, gaining 13 and 32 yards on consecutive plays, before an interception thwarted the drive.

The Jesuit/TC games are usually decided by the best rushing team, and Davis led the Tigers to a 178-to-64 edge in rushing yards over the Crusaders.

KEEPING HEADS UP: Tampa Catholic coach Mike Gregory’s message to the team after the loss was about the future, and how beating Jesuit is not the ultimate goal his team should have.

“This is just a bump in the road,” Gregory said on the field to the players afterwards. “It stings. It’s going to hurt. If you want to cry about it on the bus, go ahead…But this is not our main goal, our objective. That starts next week.”

The Crusaders (8-2) dominated Class 3A-District 4 en route to winning the title and will host Melbourne Holy Trinity in the first round of the postseason.

“Let’s shock everybody and go win a state title,” he said.

TOP PERFORMERS: The stat sheet showed a remarkable defensive effort by Jesuit, which held Tampa Catholic to 190 total yards and sacked Crusaders QB Kyle Ploucher six times.

Parker Looney had a pair of sacks on Ploucher in the final drive, while Jack Taylor had 1.5 sacks as well as a blocked extra point.

Tampa Catholic also had some stars on defense, mainly Willie Conley, who intercepted the Tigers twice.

On offense, T.J. Harrell overcame a slow first half to rush for 83 yards and a TD on 12 carries. He had just eight yards rushing at halftime.

Ploucher finished 12-of-21 passing for 126 yards. Justin Motlow had seven receptions for 99 yards.

Jesuit finished with 232 yards of offense. In addition to Davis, Kevin Newman had 66 total yards (49 rushing, 17 receiving) and the Tigers’ lone touchdown. Ryan Black had 53 yards receiving and 13 yards rushing.

STREAK STATS: In addition to winning their 14th consecutive game in the rivalry, the Tigers have also won 22 of the last 24 since 1990. Jesuit leads the all-time series 36-11 since the rivalry began in 1965 with the first varsity meeting.

ODDS AND ENDS: Former Jesuit soccer coach Bob Bauman was honored at halftime. ... Former TC head coach and current Hillsborough County Property Appraiser Bob Henriquez watched the game from the sidelines throughout. ... FOX 13 news anchor Kelly Ring tweeted that she served the pregame meal to Jesuit before kickoff.

Appendix surgery sidelines Jesuit QB Testaverde for TC game

Posted Nov 9, 2013 by Bart O'Connell

Updated Nov 9, 2013 at 01:00 AM

Jesuit QB Vincent Testaverde was not able to play in Friday night’s rivalry game with Tampa Catholic, after feeling discomfort in his abdominal area Thursday night that doctors said would require appendix surgery.

Testaverde is expected to miss next week’s playoff game against Auburndale, but could return for subsequent games according to Jesuit coach Matt Thompson.

Testaverde attended Friday’s senior night ceremonies, and participated in the coin toss without his pads on before the game. Prior to kickoff, he told he was getting the surgery at around 10 p.m. Friday night.

“I’m not in much pain [physically], but emotionally I am,” he said. “I started feeling bad stomach pains last night and it carried through [Friday] morning.”

Testaverde was informed that there was a risk to playing with an inflamed appendix. If he was to get hit a certain way, the appendix may have ruptured and required emergency surgery that could have sidelined him for the remainder of the postseason. By doing surgery immediately, while the appendix remains in tact, he has a chance to return if Jesuit advances past the first round.

“If there was any way I could play with the [situation] I’m in, I would be out there for sure,” Testaverde said.

Thompson was informed at around 12 p.m. of Testaverde’s condition by the quarterback’s father Vinny, the former University of Miami and NFL quarterback who is an assistant coach with the Tigers.

Junior Trent Wessel started and played the entire game for Jesuit, which went on to win 13-9, their 14th consecutive win against Tampa Catholic in the 48-year old rivalry series.

Thompson is optimistic Testaverde will be back if Jesuit beats Auburndale next week.

“The surgery is minimally-invasive, so the recovery should be quick,” Thompson said.

Pasco High WR Nate Craig out four weeks with ankle sprain

Posted Oct 7, 2013 by Mike Camunas

Updated Oct 7, 2013 at 08:12 PM

As if a 2-3 record through Week 6 wasn’t bad enough, now Pasco High’s football team may be without their star receiver the rest of the season.

Sophomore reciever Nate Craig told the Tampa Tribune he suffered a severe ankle sprain in Friday night’s 38-14 loss to 5A-6 district foe Bushnell South Sumter and will miss four weeks.

“Yeah it’s a bad sprain ankle injury. They (the doctors) said (they’re) surprised it’s not broken. But I’m out 4 weeks,” Craig said.

Craig, who has 16 Division-I scholarship offers including from Ohio State, Florida and Florida State and 366 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns, was returning a kickoff late in the fourth quarter Friday night when he landed on his right leg funny after being tackled. Craig would have to be carted out of W.F. Edwards Stadium and has been on crutches since sustaining the injury.

Its a big blow to a Pirates offense that has not found its rhythm with players such as ATH Malik Johns and junior QB Grant Starling, while Pasco (2-3) has already found itself in a 0-2 hole in 5A-6 district play. If Craig misses four weeks, he would miss the rest of the Pirates district schedule which includes, in order, Weeki Wachee, Hernando, Central and 9-Mile War rival Zephyrhills, but could return for season finale with River Ridge.

Correspondent Mike Camunas can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @MikeCamunas.