HISTORY OF ZEPHYRHILLS HIGH SCHOOL
Highlights of 1994-1995
Top Honor Comes Down to Six Pack of Players—Football, St. Petersburg Times, by Roger Mills, December 3, 1995
Coke or Pepsi? Salted or unsalted? Automatic or manual? All pretty routine. You pick one and go with it. Well, things aren’t that simple when it comes to deciding who is Pasco County’s high school football player of the year. In fact, in a year when three county teams made it to the playoffs, one completed a perfect (10-0) regular season, and another said goodbye to a coaching icon, choosing Pasco’s best is downright near impossible.
“There were a lot of outstanding performances in the county this year,” Zephyrhills coach Tom Fisher said. “It’s so hard that I haven’t even decided who is the most outstanding player on my own team. It’s not like it was last year. These kids played hard.”
Football fans have been spoiled in the recent past. Last year’s unanimous player of the year, Troy Hambrick, was a runaway winner by the second week of the season. Before him, there were others, like his brother Darren, who was best described as “clearly better than anyone else.”
But 1995 brought something new, a galaxy of all-stars, all with some outstanding talents. And every one had his time in the limelight.
At last count, six of them have legitimate claims to the title of Pasco County’s most valuable player. Notwithstanding the confusion that usually accompanies the definition of such an award, the task is as difficult this year as it has been in recent history. So while the announcement of the North Suncoast Player of the Year won’t come down for another week, here’s a little something on each. Call them the sweet six teens, if you will:
Shawn Daughtery (Zephyrhills, Sr., quarterback): Quietly and methodically, Daughtery passed his way to the top of all the county’s play-callers. By season’s end, the 6-foot-4 left-hander had amassed 1,489 yards, completing 90 of 167 passes for 14 touchdowns and three interceptions. He did it, mostly, with pinpoint passing and a deadly downfield touch.
Those who tried to defend against Daughtery, a three-sport letterman at Zephyrhills, quickly learned that he was tougher and more efficient at scrambling than his lanky frame suggested.
“I thought Daughtery could have been the best player on that team,” River Ridge coach Scott Schmitz said. “He had a tremendous year and led the team to a perfect season.”
Best game: In a 46-14 win over Ridgewood on Sept. 1, Daughtery competed 11 of 21 passes for 235 yards and three TDs.
In one word: Touch.
Mike Barber (Zephyrhills, Jr., running back): Before the beginning of the season Barber said he was aiming at 1,000 rushing yards. He said that with his off-season work habits and an improving ability to spot the holes, he could be productive. Barber, should be a guest on Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Hotline show.
Barber, who stands 5-8, 140 pounds rushed for 1,107 yards on 158 carries and had 13 touchdowns. Fisher said his 7.0 yards per carry, second best in the county for regular tailbacks, came from running behind his blockers in a patient and determined manner.
Barber, a critical part of the Bulldogs’ perfect run through the Sunshine Athletic Conference, was the primary back on a team loaded for the passing game. Had he slipped up, he would have been a forgotten man. Of course, he never did.
Best game: In a district road game at Robinson on Oct. 6, Barber had a spectacular 168 yards on 19 carries with two TDs.
In one word: Shifty.
Damien Pickett (Zephyrhills, Sr., receiver/defensive back): The measure of Pickett’s place among the rest of receivers in the conference is the potential he had to break any routine play into a 50-yard touchdown. And even when he failed to catch a touchdown pass, he still found a way into the end zone, like he did with a 98-yard punt return against Hudson.
Pickett’s numbers are impressive. His 21.4 yards per catch average is staggering, and he wound up with 557 yards on 26 catches. By the way, the 6-1, 175-pound utility player ran the ball fairly well too. Pickett rushed 17 times for 210 yards for a 12.3 average and two touchdowns.
“The thing about Damien was that he was such a threat on the field,” Hudson coach Ernie Pollock said. “He was very dangerous, and even when we kept him from catching a pass, he ran a punt back.”
Best game: In the season opening win over Ridgewood, Pickett had four catches for 130 yards and two TDs. In a word: Dangerous.
Zephyrhills High School Pulls Surprise on Land O’Lakes Soccer, St. Petersburg Times, by Logan D. Mabe, January 28, 1995
Zephyrhills High School came back from a halftime deficit to knock off Land O’ Lakes High School 2-1 Friday night and won the Class 4A, District 6 girl’s soccer championship.
Land O’ Lakes, the defending District 6 champion, jumped to a quick 1-0 lead when sophomore forward Tamra Lewis outsprinted her defender and flicked a shot past the goalkeeper in the third minute of play.
But the Bulldogs remained aggressive, consistently breaking through the Gators’ backfield as the half wore on. Down by only a goal at the break, Bulldog coach Mike Stepp knew his team could come back.
“They (the Bulldogs) were dominating at the half and they knew they were playing good,” Stepp said. “They just kept after it.”
Zephyrhills, which outshot Land O’ Lakes 16-7, kept the pressure up in the second half but Gators goalkeeper Sherri Herrman kept the Bulldogs at bay. Zephyrhills broke through and tied the score with 16:30 to play when sophomore forward Jessica Combs took the ball on a breakaway and snapped it between Herrman and the near post.
Five minutes later, Combs struck again when Herrman mishandled the ball near the end line. “She fumbled the ball and I just followed it in all the way,” Combs said. “That’s what we practiced all week; follow the shot.” With a 2-1 margin, Zephyrhills stacked the defense and thwarted a late charge by the Gators. When the final whistle sounded, the jubilant Zephyrhills players ran onto the field and swarmed Combs.
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, May 17, 1995
Zephyrhills High School art students Toni Stephens, Amanda Whitman and Alicia Yates have had their oil paintings entered into the 1995 Bay Area High School Art Showcase at Ruth Eckerd Hall. The competition showcases the highest quality of student work from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Polk and Hernando Counties.
The Zephyrhills High School Brain Bowl Team earned the honor of representing Pasco County at the recent Florida Academic Tournament of Excellence at Disney World. Team members are Mandeep Dhalla, Steven Lyons, Hari Krishnaraj, Jamal Misleh, Dipu Patel and Charles Demosthenous. Ms. Elaine Woodard serves as coach.
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, December 6, 1995
Zephyrhills High School International Thespian Society: Casey Hewlett, Cassandra York, America Munoz, Lorne Stanley, Matthew Johnson, Kristin Lasher, Katie Jennison and Melanie Lazo.
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, July 5, 1995
The Zephyrhills High School Future Business Leaders of America team members have earned another first place in State Entrepreneurship Competition. The competition consisted of a two-part exam that includes both a written and performance portion. Team members were Matt Bianco, Robert Holt, and Chut Sombutmai
Valedictorian Series, St. Petersburg Times, June 7, 1995
GPA: weighted 4.34, unweighted 4.0
Plans: Medicine. I have already been accepted into medical school, but am still weighing my options through a traditional Ivy League school.
Favorite book and author: The Death of Ivan Ilich by Leo Tolstoy.
Clubs, organizations, hobbies: National Honor Society – president, Men’s Varsity Tennis Team – co-captain, Academic Team – captain, hospital volunteer, the Bulldogger (Zephyrhills High School newspaper) – writer.
Best part of schooling: My college experiences: I have attended the University of South Florida for two years, taking classes in genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology and work in protein research lab. Attended Duke University pre-college program, taking course in anthropology and English.
What needs to be improved – how? The grade inflation in most public high schools is robbing the youth of its right to receive a quality education.
Future plans: To attend Penn State University majoring in medicine, then attend medical school and possibly become a general surgeon.
Favorite book and author: War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
Most inspirational person: H.G. Wells
Clubs-organizations-hobbies: National Honor Society, Academic Team, tennis, Future Business Leaders of America, Interact, Mu Alpha Theta, Bulldogger Newspaper.
Best part of schooling: Being able to seize the opportunities given to me, enroll in courses I wanted, while still having time for extracurricular activities.
What needs to be improved and how: Students need to have the desire to succeed. They have to want to receive an A and not just settle for a C or D.
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, June 21, 1995
The following students from Zephyrhills High School were named winners in the Florida State HOSA Leadership Conference: Jacob Law won first place in Research Persuasive Speaking. Thomas Wallace was named Florida HOSA Leadership Team Area III vice president for the Gold Star Chapter. Casey Ramirez placed fourth in Sports Medicine. Casey Ramirez won second place as Outstanding HOSA Member. Thomas Wallace placed third as Outstanding HOSA Member. National Job Recognition Program: Jacob Law, Stephanie McGovern, Thomas Wallace, Casey Ramirez. Thomas Wallace won first place for Interviewing Skills. Kathy Reeves, Christine White, Stephanie McGovern, and Zak Walstein won first place for creative problem solving. Ben Robinson placed first for Respiratory Care Aide. And Jana Jones and Purvey Patel won for Courtesy Core.
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, June 28, 1995
The Zephyrhills High School Bulldog Battalion has retained its “Honor Unit With Distinction” status earned during last year’s Army Inspection. This is the highest honor for a JROTC unit.
Paula Neale, a junior at Zephyrhills High School, recently won “Best of Show” for her entry in the Congressional Art Competition. Her acrylic portrait painting of her sister Renae will now be framed and sent to Washington, D.C., where it will be on display for one year in the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor.
Robyn Rinaldo is 21st in Rankings of US Juniors, St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Lee, October 17, 1995
Robyn Rinaldo already has made her mark as one of the top junior golfers in the state. Now, the 17-year-old from Dade City is among the best young golfers in the country.
In the Oct. 7 issue of Golfweek Magazine, Rinaldo is tied with Angela Herman of Columbus, Ga., for 21st in the Golfweek/Titleist Amateur Rankings. It is the first time she has broken into the top 25.
“I was really proud of her,” said her father, Bill, owner and club professional at Sundance Golf Club. “I thought she’d be around 30th.” The other girls from Florida on the list are Miami’s Cristie Kerr, ranked first, and second-ranked Beth Bauer of Valrico.
Next up for the Zephyrhills High School junior is the Florida Junior Golf Association tournament this weekend at Palm Aire Golf and Country Club in Pompano Beach. She also plans to play in the American Junior Golf Association Rolex Tournament of Champions in November at Walt Disney World.
Bill Rinaldo said his daughter is being recruited by Mississippi, the University of South Florida, Florida, Georgia, Auburn, Palm Beach Atlantic, Boston University and Vanderbilt.
“She wants to stay where it’s warm,” Rinaldo said, adding that Robyn was born in Winter Haven and has lived in Florida all her life.
“I don’t think anyone’s going to stop her, except Robyn,” he continued. “I saw the scores that came in from Beacon Woods last week and she’s as good or better than half of the girls on that list.”
Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, October 11, 1995
The freshman class at Zephyrhills High School has elected class officers: Robyn Golhardt, president; Heather Avinger, vice president; and Martha Espinoza, treasurer. These Zephyrhills High Future Business Leaders of America members participated in a recent East Pasco Habitat for Humanity walk-a-thon: Vanessa Camacho, Laura Heron, Lenaie Lazo, Shirley Norris, Patty Smith and Chut Sombutmai. The club’s advisers, Evelyn Rowell and Joan Knowles, also walked. More than $200 was raised by their efforts. The homecoming court is: Deana Deno, queen; Rickey Moore, king; Emilee Lewis, princess; Kevin Barry, prince; Rana Prior, sophomore maid; Brad Wersing, sophomore squire; Elisa Rickard, freshman maid; Will Stimpson, freshman squire. These students helped during Florida Coastal Cleanup Day: Lorrina Bailey, Brandy Cortez, Robert Darby, Stephanie Dean, Robyn Golhardt, Ashlee Hembree and Rick Laginess. These students were commended for TV production work: Tony Colwell, Ellen Duffy and Lorne Stanley. Student, Rhonda Lynn Galuszka used the Heimlich maneuver to save a choking child on Clearwater Beach. Robert Holt was named a Commended Student by the National Merit Scholarship Corp. for his PSAT/NMSQT score. Jennifer Cracchiolo placed first in the Farm Bureau District Prepared Speaking Contest.
Bulldogs Finish Unbeaten, St. Petersburg Times, by Roger Mills, November 11, 1995
This was by no means a perfect game, but it ended in a perfect result.
Zephyrhills High, shut out of an undefeated regular season record since the school began playing football 41 years ago, ended the drought with a 23-15 nail-biting road win over Gulf High Friday night.
The victory finished a perfect 10-0 season for the Bulldogs and set the stage for their appearance in the district playoffs next week.
“This certainly wasn’t perfect,” Bulldogs coach Tom Fisher said. “We haven’t played a perfect game since facing Pasco, since then, we have been in neutral and just barely holding on.”
“This is great for the school, for the coaches and for my teammates,” said star receiver Damien Pickett, whose 31-yard touchdown reception early in the second quarter gave the Bulldogs a 13-0 lead. “It’s particularly good for the seniors.”
But Gulf, inspired by the desire to give 36-year veteran coach Wilbur Lofton a win on his final game, would not go gently into the night.
The Buccaneers roared back from a 20-0 half time deficit to pull within eight points in the final minutes. But as it has been for Gulf all season, the Buccaneers found a way to lose.
“We had our chances and just didn’t get it done,” said a teary eyed Lofton after the game. “We had no offense in the first half and when you get down by 20 points, it’s almost impossible to come back.”
They made it close. John Fussell’s 2-yard score late in the third and David Blow’s 31-yard scamper mid-way through the fourth made it 23-15. Gulf would get the ball back with less than a minute to play but Zephyrhills’ Josh Willis intercepted Mike Stanton’s last minute heave to save the win.
The early jitters were obvious for the Buccaneers. Gulf had just three first downs, 29 total yards from scrimmage and two turnovers in the first two quarters. Against the likes of Zephyrhills, that is a prescription for worry.
Zephyrhills obliged and punished Gulf for each mistake. The Bulldogs scored on three of their first five possessions and could easily have had their fourth score had kicker Shay Daughtery’s 21-yard field goal cleared cross bar.
Pouncing on a Blow fumble on the third possession of the game, quarterback Shawn Daughtery immediately went to work.
The senior lefty connected on 3 of 4 passes, one each to B. J. Booker, Pickett and Demetrius McKay for 9, 12 and 4 yards respectively to give Zephyrhills first down on the Gulf 11-yard line. After an incomplete pass, tailback Mike Barber scored running up the middle. The point after was missed and Zephyrhills had a 6-0 lead.