Zephyrhills High School – 1995-1996


Highlights of 1995-1996

Zephyrhills Grad Not Shy At All, Tampa Tribune by Tiffany Anderson, June 7, 1996

Ask Chut Sombutmai how he thinks his classmates will remember him and the answer comes in two categories.

“When I first got here, I didn’t set out to be valedictorian. I didn’t want to stand up in front of the whole school and speak for five minutes and, you know, black out,” Sombutmai, says chuckling. “But now I’m glad. It makes me proud. And if I mess up, well, then I can laugh at myself.

A 17-year-old who has made straight A’s since eighth grade, Sombutmai graduates today with a 4.3 grade point average.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, May 8, 1996

Zephyrhills High School Band Superior ratings at district band festival: Russell Alderman, Juan Baez, Trisha Berglund, Melanie Bowman, Dominick D’Alessandro, Chad Denman, Chris Dunn, Dana Gaffney, Ryan Guerin, Torrina Guerin, Jeri Haxton, Robert Holt, Amber Horn, Norman Kline, John Mason, Mindy Milnes, Carlos Morales, Katherine Myers, Matt Peters, Ken Schultz, Derick Sheffler, Mike Soule, Kristi Traver, Stacey Green, Melanie Bowman, Torrina Guerin, Sabrina Welsch, Kristie West, Virgil Richardson, Tim Forry, Matt Michela, Mike Soule, Stephen MacMullan, Chad Denman, Ken Schultz, Norman Kline, Robert Holt, John Mason, Carlos Morales, Russell Alderman, Chris Dunn, Allen Emery, Norman Kline, John Mason and Carlos Morales.

Science Students Advance in Judging Series, St. Petersburg Times, by Jamal Thalji, May 13, 1996

Senior Kellyann Higgins of Hudson High School and sophomore Gregg Hilferding of Zephyrhills High School will head to Tucson, Ariz., for the International Science and Engineering Fair May 5 through 11.

The Florida Foundation for Future Scientists sponsors the statewide fair April 10-12.

Those winners heading to Orlando are: Elizabeth Sheridan, Bishop Larkin; Stephanie Post, Hudson High; Shaun Bierweiler, Kipper Connell, Aubrey Hankins, Jennifer Lewis, Katherine Rhodes, Jennifer St. Pierre, Hudson Middle; Jenni Anderson, Land O’ Lakes High; Johnny Wild, Pineview Middle; Heather Steffey, Ridgewood High; Cassandra Chow, Vincent Chow, Radhika Dinavahi, Christin Howells, Julio Lopez, Cheryl Maughan, Anand Patel, River Ridge Middle/High; Cortney Curtio, Josh Gilbert, David Turner, Thomas E. Weightman Middle; Jennifer Cracchiolo, Zephyrhills High School.

Rinaldo to play golf for Mississippi, St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Lee, April 10, 1996

Zephyrhills High golfer Robyn Rinaldo makes it official today by signing an athletic scholarship to the University of Mississippi.  The three-time district medalist is the second female golfer from the east Pasco school in the past three years to sign with a Division I school. Erin O’Neil, a junior at the University of Georgia, also was a standout golfer for the Bulldogs.

Bill Rinaldo, owner and head professional at Sundance Golf Course in Dade City, said his daughter mulled over numerous offers before deciding on Ole Miss. Spending time with the team at a recent tournament apparently swayed her decision, her father said, adding that the team also made a conference call to Robyn last week.

Yet another factor influenced the 18-year-old: weather.

“She had schools from literally all over the country calling her,” Bill Rinaldo said. “She immediately eliminated any of them that weren’t in a temperate zone.”

Robyn Rinaldo has struggled somewhat this season, averaging 42 with the boy’s team, according to Bulldogs coach Bob Hatfield. Bill Rinaldo said that is partly due to a desire for his daughter to play on the next level. “I think she really is ready to step up,” he said, adding that she plans to enter more amateur than junior tournaments this summer.

Robyn Rinaldo has played on the boy’s team at Zephyrhills the past two seasons and reached the state tournament three times. The high school senior also won the girls division on the inaugural Florida Junior Golf Association tour, which was organized by her father.

Bulldogs Growing With the Season, St. Petersburg Times, by Roger Mills, April 5, 1996

The Zephyrhills Bulldogs have lost 11 games this year but first-year coach Steve Mumaw is still thinking positively.

The way the former assistant at Pasco-Hernando Community College sees it, a lot of those losses have come to top-quality teams and the Bulldogs will reap the benefits in the long run.

In the meantime, Zephyrhills will look for lessons from its performance over the last week in the Dunedin Spring Tournament.

The Bulldogs (10-11 and 7-5 in the Sunshine Athletic Conference) went 1-2 in one of the area’s most competitive tournaments.

Senior right-hander Ricky Moore (3-3) had his hands full with a strong Clearwater High lineup that hammered him for nine runs (six earned) in a 9-1 loss last Saturday. Despite that, he still had nine strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings.

The Bulldogs didn’t help Moore in the field or at the plate. They committed six errors and were held to four hits.

“Ricky did his best and really did not pitch a bad game,” Mumaw said. “But they can hit and they hit him around a bit and he just got tired.”

On Tuesday, the Bulldogs returned to the win column at the expense of a familiar foe. With River Ridge missing star pitcher/hitter T.J. Tucker, Zephyrhills jumped to a 6-3 lead, and then held on for a 6-5 win.

Andrew Peeples (3-2) pitched a complete game, with only three runs earned, and struck out 10. His teammates had nine hits, with Mike Wren going 3-for-4 with two doubles and two RBI, and J.D Porter 2-for-3 with two RBI.

Wednesday night, Zephyrhills was eliminated from the tournament 6-1 by East Lake. Senior left-hander Shawn Daughtery (4-4) took the loss. Jason Crandel went 2-for-3 with one RBI as the Bulldogs were held to five hits.

Up next for Zephyrhills is Tuesday’s conference and district game with Pasco.

“This is a huge district game for us,” Mumaw said. “If we win this, we take the north division of the district, which means we get a bye in the playoffs and won’t have to play Jesuit until the finals. Jesuit is one of the top teams in the country and you don’t want to have to face them until the finals since both finalists move on to regional play.”

The Raging Rams: Coach Larry Beets has done his best to spiff up the home field at Ridgewood High, and he plans to enjoy the surroundings as the season comes to an end.

The Rams (8-17, 3-12 in the SAC) had few highlights at the start of the season, but seem to be turning things around and will finish the year playing four of five games at home.

“We’re happy with the way things are turning around for us,” Beets said. “We finish most of our games at home and host the district, so that’s not so bad.”

Last Friday, Ridgewood got a few heroic performances from sophomore Ronny Weimer and held on for a dramatic 9-8 win over Land O’ Lakes. Weimer belted a solo homer in the bottom of the seventh to tie the game at 8 after the Gators erased a five-run lead. Then he drove in the winning run with a bases-loaded, one-out single in the bottom of the eighth.

On Monday, the Rams opened play in the Dunedin tournament with an impressive and satisfying 2-1 win over East Lake.

They had been beaten 7-0 by East Lake earlier.

Senior Lucas Berger, who has appeared mostly in relief this season, pitched four innings as a starter and gave up one run on one hit and struck out three. Lefty Brian Rushe pitched the last three innings and struck out eight of nine batters. Catcher Robbie Robertson went 2-for-3 and had Ridgewood’s only RBI.

“It was nice to see Lucas come in as a starter and pitch very well,” Beets said. “We’re starting to play well and I was very pleased with the way they stayed focused in a close ballgame.”

On Tuesday, Ridgewood left a number of runners on base and fell 4-1 to Clearwater. Sophomore Mike Rabelo (2-5) took the loss.

Wednesday, the Rams were beaten 4-3 by Hernando and eliminated from the tournament. Senior Bryce Schooler (3-4) pitched a complete game, struck out eight and held the Leopards without an earned run, but still took the loss.

Once again, the Rams had their chances. With runners in scoring position in the top of the seventh, Berger’s line drive was gobbled up by the first baseman for the game-ending out.

Life After T.J.: To say it has been a tough year for River Ridge would be true; to say it just got tougher would be an understatement.

Tucker, the Knights’ star pitcher/hitter, underwent season-ending surgery Thursday morning in New Port Richey for tears in the meniscus cartilage of his right knee. He suffered the injury while rounding first base in a game at Hudson last Friday.

The Knights were leading Hudson 3-2 before Tucker went down. They lost 5-3. Then came Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to Zephyrhills in the Dunedin tournament.

“It’s a big loss for us,” Knights coach Jack Homko said of Tucker. “It’s been a real tough year for us, but I told the kids that a team is not built around one player. The other guys are going to have to come ready to play.

Gators Looking For the Bite: With escalating mistakes in the field and missed opportunities at the plate, Land O’ Lakes has lost four of five games.

On March 27, ace Steven Howie (7-1) sustained his first loss of the year, 3-0 at home to Pasco. He found himself in trouble early after he hit three consecutive batters and a fielding error led to two runs.

On Saturday in Dunedin, Matt McCleary (1-2) was roughed up by an overpowering Dunedin lineup in a 10-2 loss. Brian Baij had two hits for Land O’ Lakes, including a solo home run in the sixth.

Two days later, the Gators found their stroke as they devoured Largo 11-0. Howie got his seventh win in a game that was closer than the score indicated. Only ahead 1-0 in the top of the sixth inning, Land O’ Lakes scored six runs. Rex Keene’s two-run triple broke the game open, while Adam Shorts was 2-for-4 with two RBI, Brad Baisely was 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Justin Martindale and McCleary each had two hits.

On Wednesday, the Gators bowed out with a 5-1 loss to Springstead. Barrett Cornish (1-3) took the loss. Shorts had two hits.

“Right now, we’re not playing very well,” coach Calvin Baisley said. “We ran into a tough part of our schedule and faced some good pitchers, but just haven’t had the defense. When you’re not playing well, you’re not going to get the lucky breaks.”

Taking A Break: Pasco, Hudson and Gulf remained quiet over the Easter break, although the Buccaneers will host Land O’ Lakes tonight at 7:30 in a non-conference game.

Zephyrhills Boys Heavily Favored in Sac Tourney-Golf, St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Lee, April 17, 1996

The defending Sunshine Athletic Conference golf champions are looking to repeat in Thursday’s conference meet hosted by Pasco High at the Links of Lake Bernadette.

Zephyrhills, which claimed the SAC crown last year, heads a field that includes Gulf, Hudson, Land O’ Lakes, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Springstead and struggling Pasco, which did not win a match.

Springstead is favored to win in the girls division for the second straight year, but River Ridge, last year’s runner-up, could unseat the Eagles. The other girl’s teams are Gulf, Ridgewood, Hudson and Land O’ Lakes.

The boys tee off at 9 a.m., followed by the girls at 10:15 a.m.

“They have – by far – the best team,” Pasco boys coach Bob McFadden said of the Bulldogs.

Coach Bob Hatfield, citing a recent drop in individual averages, said his Zephyrhills boy’s squad is peaking at the right time.

“We’re playing much better down the stretch,” he said. “We all of a sudden began to score well through the whole lineup.

We were really struggling in March and it seems like we kind of hit our stride going into April.”

Three-time district medalist Robyn Rinaldo, who last week signed an athletic scholarship to the University of Mississippi and has been a member of the boys team for the past two years, leads the Bulldogs with a 39 average. Todd Negoshian is a stroke behind, with Dave Batra and Scott Sanders shooting around 42. Zephyrhills’ lineup runs deep with sophomores John Henson and Chad Lallemond, as well as freshman Jarod Brown, each averaging around 41-42 in recent weeks.

The tournament’s location, off State Road 54 in Zephyrhills, also could prove beneficial for the Bulldogs. “It’s a must win for us,” Hatfield said. “It should be our tournament. We’re playing it basically on our home course.”

Pasco’s Brightest Reflect on School, St. Petersburg Times, by Chut Sobutmai, Sarah Reed, Amee Patel and Christopher Lorich, June 5, 1996

Before they leave school for college, the Times asked Pasco County’s valedictorians to share their thoughts on their education and experiences in the school system. The responses varied widely, from a defense of the Pasco school system, to what they enjoyed most about their time in school, to what they look forward to in the next chapter of their lives and even a call for higher standards for all students. Here now, for the last time, are some of the best and brightest of Pasco County schools: Chut Sombutmai, valedictorian at Zephyrhills High School will graduate with a 4.3 GPA. His honors include: Pride winner for social studies and math; Intellectual Freedom Essay Winner; ACE Brain Bowl competition third-place finisher; staff member of The Bulldogger; Straight-A’s award winner; Quill and Scroll Award of Honor; and second-place Calculus Team award winner. He plans to attend the University of Miami and major in biology and chemistry. Eventually, he wants to become a physician. Education is an important part of life. Without it, we would be roaming the world like zombies. Education adds flavor to our lives. It gives us questions to ponder, and is the beginning to the wonderful journey that we call life. The quest to find answers to these questions is what life is all about, along with education is the building of character and self-confidence.

From a very young age, I decided to take the education that I had acquired and expand on it. The expansion that I desired contributed to my success. I sought only the best, and I wanted classes that would not only be beneficial to me, but was also challenging. As I excelled in each class, I gathered more self-confidence in myself, I had learned the valuable lesson of perseverance and determination.

It is these key elements that will lead anyone to success.

I feel that my education at Zephyrhills High School was strong. I had teachers that were willing to assist me in whatever I needed. I believe that it is this teacher-student relationship that is important to having a good education.

A good education, though, is dependent on one person and one person only: the student.

It is the student who has to start building a solid foundation for his or her future.

My parents taught me that in order to have a successful life you have to go to school. School not only provides skills and knowledge, but also facilitates personal growth and character development.

Through extra-curricular activities and leadership roles, a school can accomplish that.

My involvement in the Future Business Leaders of America and The Bulldogger, named the best high school newspaper in Pasco County by the Pasco Times, has taught me organizational and leadership skills as well as given me self-confidence.

When I first entered Zephyrhills High, I was a shy child remaining in my protective shell, which I call the comfort zone.

However, with my senior year quickly coming to an end, I can proudly say that I am no longer that shy guy. I have emerged out of my comfort zone to become a confident leader.

In closing, let me stress again why an education is so important. It has helped me establish my goals and takes me one step closer to success. I am going to attend the University of Miami where I would like to complete my bachelor’s degree in three years, and then transfer to the medical school at John Hopkins University. I am seeking a medical degree and my doctorate.

I would also like to say that my family is very important to me. Without them I would not be where I am today. They have sacrificed so much for me just to see me happy and successful. My parents’ names are Kruth and Sa-Ang. Thank you!

Sarah Reed, the valedictorian at Pasco High School, will graduate with a 4.380 GPA. During her senior year, she was captain of the varsity girl’s soccer team, managing editor of the school’s newspaper, and a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Interact, the National Honor Society and a student council executive board representative. She plans to attend Stetson University next fall and major in communications.

High school is a time for students to experiment with their identity and introduce themselves to the person they will become in the future.

The lessons we learn in high school are valuable, as well as the knowledge we attain, but success in high school does not mandate success in life.

Likewise, failure should not discourage students from trying to attain their dreams.

If we cannot learn our studies in high school, then at least we can learn from our mistakes.

If we cannot do even that, we have wasted our time.

High school is not only about academics and preparation for college, it is the practice run for life.

It is a time to try out every possible world: play sports, join clubs, take tests, and learn to be a leader.

High school is a short, four-year period in which we, as students, are expected to gain the perspective and wisdom to prevent us from going astray in life, and to lead us on the course that will allow us to discover the person who we were always meant to be. Amee Patel, co-valedictorian at River Ridge High School, will graduate with a 4.5357 GPA. Her accomplishments include a National Merit Commendation Letter; winner of the Trig Star competition at the school her junior year; PRIDE winner for English. During her junior year she was an achievement awards in writing state semifinalist and she was a national Rotary Club world affairs delegate. She plans to attend Dartmouth College and major in comparative literature and minor in French and Italian.

I think we need to expect more of students of all ages.

Because if we start expecting more from elementary school students, then by the time they get to the high school or college level, they can do more, and we can raise the level of education in this country.

I remember in sixth grade, when my homeroom teacher read an article on a big international educational competition in all the subjects among students from the world powers, and the American students placed last.

Every year, it seems the level teachers expect of us gets lower and lower. Of course, this is also affected by budget cuts every year.

If we can start raising our standards again, and start expecting more out of American students, than maybe our students will become the equals of other students around the world. Christopher Lorich, valedictorian at Hudson High School, will graduate with a 4.35 GPA. Lorich is an award-winning pianist, a state-record holder in archery and plays racquetball in his free time. He plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania.

Of late, education in Pasco County, as well as on a statewide scale, has been on the blunt end of flagrant criticism.

Beginning with the long-held stereotypes of public education south of the Mason-Dixon line, regarding its quality in a head-to-head comparison.

However, those who perpetuate this rumor do not seem to realize that, although there is no longer a distinction in quality between the north and south.

In accordance with northern standards, and sometimes exceeding them, the south, and notably, Pasco county, has matched current developments in technique and technology.

Up-to-date computer systems are available to nearly every student in the county, although there are very few who are able to make good use of this invaluable resource.

That is because the school system, no matter how good, is far from perfect in their transfer of new knowledge to the students.

Teaching styles as well have been evolving at a blinding rate since I began school in Pasco county only 13 years ago.

With the advent of “Grade less” systems in primary schools, students are now challenged to achieve exactly what they can accomplish, as opposed to a strict set of standards to which everyone, no matter what their strong points may be, had to achieve in the past.

This theory works at both ends of the spectrum, as students who are slower learners will avoid being branded failures by their inconsiderate peers, while those with the ability to go far beyond what is expected may explore their true abilities to their fullest.

Although the real world cannot approach this amount of fair play and equality among evaluation of workers, I would like to see similar systems installed in secondary schools, so that the primary school students who have known nothing but the new system may continue their educations in a fashion as they have been accustomed to.

In theory, this may also assist in the determination of a career, or whether an individual should attend college, vocational school, or attempt to find a job immediately after graduation from high school.

In any case, the future of education in Pasco County shines brightly.

Heather Lynn Steffey, valedictorian at Ridgewood High School, will graduate with a 4.4524 GPA, the highest ever in school history. She is very active with Ridgewood’s award-winning band.

It is very hard to believe that four years of high school have gone by so quickly. In just a few days I will be in cap and gown, accepting my diploma with pride.

I am very excited about graduation and about entering college in the fall, but I am also very thankful for all that I have learned while in high school.

One of the first aspects of high school that I have learned from is academics.

Challenging courses have enabled me to discover personal strengths and weaknesses, to explore various interests and to realize the value of hard work and dedication.

I have also been fortunate enough to experience music while in high school. As a band member, I have been a team player, as well as a leader.

But more importantly, I have grown as a human being and have had the opportunity to develop a talent that can be shared with others.

Finally, through club activities, community involvement and fellowship with friends and family, I have become a well-rounded individual, and have learned so much about myself in the process.

Together these experiences have encouraged me to set goals and to always strive to do my very best.

I cherish my education, and above all, respect those who have given me that education, for they have given me the powers to truly make a difference.

Diversity Reigns Over Zephyrhills Graduating Class, St. Petersburg Times, by Nancy Weil and Roger Mills, June 7, 1996

One in a series of stories, based on interviews with yearbook staffs, reviewing the year’s highlights at each of the county’s seven major public high schools.

Although there are academic accomplishments to note, the school year ending today at Zephyrhills High was dominated by athletic excellence from start to finish.

It all started with a record-setting year by the Bulldogs’ football team, which pulled off a first in school history – a 10-0 record, including a victory over rival Pasco High. “It was a great way to end high school,” said salutatorian Amanda Schwab, who was a football and basketball cheerleader this year. She also served as sports editor of the campus newspaper, The Bulldogger, chosen as the best in the district by the Pasco Times. Overall, she said, the Class of ’96 dabbles in many different areas – art, sports, academics, music. She said the school had a lot of different groups whose members have particular talents. “There isn’t really one particular thing that unifies us,” she said, adding that the students encourage each other to pursue individual talents. Most of the seniors have been friends for a long time, said yearbook co-editor Misty Bird, also a senior. She said the senior class is fun-loving and “into sports and partying” – typical pursuits for those about to leave high school. Amid the good times, though, students did excel academically. Amanda, for instance, is bound for Cornell University, where she plans to freeze during the notoriously rugged winters of Ithaca, N.Y., and major in biology.

Valedictorian Chut Sombutmai also is planning to major in biology, with a second major in chemistry, at the University of Miami. Brian Wood won an appointment to the Air Force Academy, and Paula Neale won a $75,000 scholarship to Florida Southern University.

Amanda said that in recent weeks, academic accomplishments have taken the spotlight over athletic achievements because all of the sports seasons have ended.

Damien Pickett led the Bulldogs on the gridiron, catching 25 passes for 557 yards and seven touchdowns. He also had 210 yards on 17 carries and added two rushing touchdowns. He was the Times All-North Suncoast Player of the Year. Running back Mike Barber gained 1,107 yards on 158 carries and 13 touchdowns and quarterback Shawn Daughtery completed 90 of 167 passes for 1,489 yards and 14 touchdowns. Both also were named to the All-North Suncoast first team.

The Bulldogs also excelled on the wrestling mat. Five wrestlers were named to the conference first team: James Leach (112 pounds), John Leach (130), Stephen Dion (145), Dan Zawicki (171) and Eric Beasley (275). John Leach, Dion and Zawicki all made it to the state final match. On the soccer field, Rene Neale, Brian Fettig, Nick Holmes, Luis Adino and Travis Hartley all were named to the Sunshine Athletic Conference first team and boys’ coach Chris Bonnell was named conference coach of the year.

In weightlifting, Andy Conley was the best in the SAC and Sean Fitzgerald (129 pounds), Joey Skeeter (159), Ryan Lincoln (169), Jeremy Cavolina (210), Robert Hasler (220) and Tony Fernandez (275) were all first team SAC selections.

Despite coach Tom Feely’s decision to dismiss tennis stars Steven Capriati and Mark Hahn, the Bulldogs still dominated the conference. Top player Brent Nye was named player of the year.

Behind the guidance of SAC coach of the year Belinda Brown, the girls’ tennis team ran through the SAC (8-0), had the player of the year in senior Lindsey White and had four others named to the All-SAC first team: Ayako Tanaka, Miwa Itagaki, Callie Currington and Erika Reyes.

In basketball, the Bulldogs won the district finals, paced by senior guard Chad Bouton’s 18.4 points per game. He ended his career with 210 three-point field goals. Shawn Daughtery, also named to the SAC first team, averaged 18 points. In girl’s basketball, Kim Miller and Brandy Mays powered the Bulldogs to the playoffs. Mays finished the year by scoring more than 1,000 points. Senior Ricky Moore was named to the Times All-North Suncoast team in baseball.

Class of 1996, St. Petersburg Times, June 9, 1996

Kari Guptill was posing for yet another graduation photograph at Zephyrhills High School on Friday night when a thought suddenly occurred to her. She reached up to touch the orange tassel hanging from her mortarboard. “What side does this go on?” Kari asked her father, Ed, who was in from Horican, Wis., to witness the graduation of his 18-year-old daughter. He laughed and chided her, “I don’t know – don’t you listen?” A couple of hours later, Guptill and some 2,000 other new Pasco graduates shifted tassels from left to right at the county’s seven major high schools, all of which had commencement exercises Friday night. From school to school, similar scenes played out as jubilant graduates and their loved ones celebrated the annual rite of passage.

Josh Willis was determined to walk across the stage to collect his diploma at Zephyrhills High School.

The 18-year-old broke his shin playing soccer several months ago, and the metal plate that had been put into the ailing bone had broken. Last Tuesday morning, he underwent surgery, and he was using a wheelchair at graduation.

“I’m glad to be here,” Willis said. “I’d rather be walking like everybody else, but I’m glad to be here.”

Although he was going to need a push into the gymnasium, Willis planned to amble across the stage without assistance from anyone else.

“I’m crutching’ across the stage,” he said, as the 230 members of the senior class gathered.

Willis said that he had practiced using crutches to maneuver across the stage and he wasn’t worried about falling.

Norman Kline, 18, wasn’t worried, either. In fact, when he was asked what was going through his mind as the time drew near to graduate, he smiled and said, “Not much?”

He said that he’ll probably be excited when he graduates from college, but high school graduation wasn’t striking him as that big of a deal.

Zephyrhills Graduates Reminded of Reunions, St. Petersburg Times, June 23, 1996

There are two events scheduled for graduates of Zephyrhills High School.

The Zephyrhills High School Class of ’56 will celebrate its 40th-year reunion at 6 p.m. on June 29 in the Alice Hall Building in Zephyr Park in Zephyrhills. Members who are unable to attend are urged to send pictures and stories to bring their classmates up to date on their experiences during the past 40 years. All alumni, regardless of graduation year, are invited to attend the 27th annual Zephyrhills High School Alumni and Friends reunion June 30 at the Lion’s Den on Dean Dairy Road.

Registration begins at 11 a.m. with a covered-dish luncheon at 1 p.m. Pictures, news stories, yearbooks, videos and more will be on display at the Sunday reunion. Recognition will be given to the oldest graduate, the person who traveled the farthest to attend and the family with the most members present.

Jerry Pricher, scholarship co-chairman, is accepting donations for the Alumni Scholarship Program. The scholarship recipient must be descended from a graduate. Ron Cherry, co-chairman of the program, will present the first alumni scholarship award to 1996 graduate Rick Moore, son of Rick and Barbara Bales Moore, both graduates of Zephyrhills High School.

The reunion committee is trying to locate the following people: James Dennison, Betty Newsome, Edith Overton and James Wasner. If you have any information, call Margaret Seppanen at (813) 782-6717 or (813) 782-4495.

Class Notes, St. Petersburg Times, October 23, 1996

Congratulations to Jacob Law on his selection as Student of the Month. Law has been active in high school in both academic and club endeavors. Kudos also to Domonick D’Allessandro, April Ciulla, Heather Johnson, Kyla Morse and Rebecca Scherer. These students passed the musicianship and sight reading portion of the All-State Choral Test. Good luck in your preparations for the Octet Auditions.

Class Notes Series, St. Petersburg Times, October 16, 1996

Zephyrhills High School Congratulations to Jennifer Dubay and Frank Quaglia on becoming Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

Heroes and Happenings, St. Petersburg Times, November 10, 1996

Zephyrhills’ defense smothered Cobra quarterback Nathan Elkins. It held him to one completion of 41 yards and sacked him four times. The Stat Book Friday night, Land O’ Lakes running backs Mike Barber and Chris Riggins combined for 214 yards total on 33 carries. The two dominated the second half controlling the ball which resulted in nine first downs and a drive that almost lasted the third quarter. Zephyrhills’ Mike Barber eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark. Austin carried the ball 21 times and had 241 yards, but the team finished with 37 carries and 275 yards. Hernandez had four catches for 33 yards and two touchdowns, Brian Watchel had two receptions for 67 yards and Rizzo had two for 56 yards. Dobbins had 86 yards on 12 carries while Watchel finished with 47 yards on 11 carries.

Barber’s record breaking run lifts bulldogs, St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Lee, November 16, 1996

Mike Barber ended a storybook high school football career with the most thrilling chapter Friday night, captivating a partisan crowd by shattering three school records in leading Zephyrhills past Gulf 39-13.

Fittingly, the tailback’s career game came in a Sunshine Athletic Conference matchup on Senior Night.

Barber, a 5-foot-9, 160-pound rusher renowned for his slashing, cutback style, became the Bulldogs’ all-time single-game rushing leader with 272 yards on 14 carries against Gulf. His three touchdowns also make him the school’s all-time career leader with 32 and single-season leader with 15.

“It means a lot to me, but I give a lot of credit to my offensive line,” Barber said. “Fifty percent of it has to go to the offensive line.”

“At the half I told him I’d leave him in for a while just so he could get that one more touchdown,” said Zephyrhills head coach Tom Fisher. “He did it in good fashion with that one long run.”

That would be Barber’s third scoring run, a 50-yard jaunt where he ran straight up the middle, disappeared in a pile of Buccaneers jerseys, and scampered down the left sideline.

Kevin Widener also left a mark in his final game, completing 7 of 12 passes for 137 yards to become the third Zephyrhills quarterback to throw for more than 1,000 yards in a season.

Zephyrhills (7-3, 5-2 in the SAC) closed out the season with six wins in its last seven games. The Bulldogs, who went unbeaten last year and won the Class 4A, District 9 title, narrowly missed the playoffs, finishing behind district champion Tampa Jesuit and arch-rival Pasco.

Gulf (1-9, 1-6) lost its last four games, but scored for the first time in 14 quarters.

The scoring drought ended at 4:23 into the third quarter when Johnny Martir scored the first of his two touchdowns on a 1-yard run.

Martir and Barber scored 51 seconds apart in the third quarter, Martir on a 9-yard run and Barber on his record 50-yard jaunt.

Zephyrhills took a 26-0 halftime lead on Barber touchdown runs of 44 and 25 yards, a 37-yard pass from Widener to Demetrius McKay and a 10-yard pass from Widener to J.B. Wilson.

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