Zephyrhills High School – 2000-2001


Highlights of 2000-2001

214 Seniors Share Laughs and Tears, St. Petersburg Times, by Brady Dennis, May 27, 2001

Charles Carroccetto, diploma in hand, ripped open his black gown to reveal a Superman T-shirt underneath. Carroccetto was not alone. The 214 graduates of Zephyrhills High School spent Friday night feeling invincible. They did the wave. They bumped chests. They high-fived. They bounced beach balls through the salt-and-pepper crowd – girls in white robes, boys in black.

They hugged. They laughed. They cried. Behind the graduates, a standing room only crowd packed the gymnasium. Proud parents blew party horns. They rang cow bells. They waved glow sticks. And they provided a steady stream of flashbulbs. On stage, the talk focused on things to come.

“Graduation is very much a crossroads in our lives,” said valedictorian Mamie Wise, voted Pasco County’s Most Outstanding Student of the Year for Pasco County from among nominees of each high school. “Today is our chance to do the impossible and live our dreams. Pursue those things that truly feed your soul.”

Salutatorian Carolyn Young echoed the advice.

“Don’t be afraid to try for something that seems impossible,” she said. “Many things are possible if we are willing to try them, and they all begin with dreams.”

Although much of the night was spent pondering the future, some graduates couldn’t help reflecting on the past.

With a tear running down her cheek, Gertrude Huffman, 18, walked across the stage clutching a framed photo of her father, who died in a 1992 car crash.

“It was a graduation present from my sister; that way he could be here,” Huffman said through tears. “He would be very proud.”

Dana Guest might have appreciated the occasion more than anyone. She almost wasn’t alive to see it.

Guest was paralyzed when a rock truck plowed into her last June 17 on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. She spent three months in the hospital and missed the first month of her senior year.

But she said she was determined to graduate, and she did – with honors.

“This is one of the happiest days of my life,” said Guest, who received a roaring ovation as she guided her wheelchair across the stage. “I’m just glad I am here to experience it. I probably wouldn’t be if not for this school and this community.”

The ceremony didn’t lack tear-jerking moments. Andrea Counsell kept the crowd in rapt silence while she strummed her acoustic guitar and sang You Mean Everything To Me.

And as the evening wound to a close, the graduates watched a video montage on a massive screen that was lowered over the podium.

They laughed, cried and howled as pictures of proms, football games, and days on the beach and other high school moments flashed across the screen.

The video’s background song rang true: “As we go on, we remember all the times we had together. As our lives change, come whatever, we will still be friends forever.”

Principal Jim Davis watched with a contented grin. He said 2001 was a class he wouldn’t soon forget.

“We are like a family here. We are still a community high school. We have a community that supports us,” Davis said. “I have always been fond of this class. They are very strong, very unique.”

At the Top Series, St. Petersburg Times, by Michelle Miller, May 16, 2001

Smack in the middle of Advanced Placement exams, Zephyrhills High School valedictorian Mamie Wise is more than ready for it to be over.

“Any time I’ve had, I’ve been cracking the books,” Mamie said. “I’m definitely looking forward to summer.”

No doubt Mamie could use a rest. Her resume is somewhat lengthy. She has had some good guidance along the way. Both her parents work in the school system. Her father, Ernest Wise, is a media specialist at Zephyrhills High and her mother, Madonna Wise, is the principal at West Zephyrhills Elementary.

“It’s definitely been an experience because I’ve met a lot of people,” Mamie said. But there can be a draw back. “I think teacher’s children are expected to be highly academic, though I don’t think I’ve had a problem with that.”

While Mamie said she has enjoyed the small-town feeling of attending Zephyrhills High School, attending Duke University in Durham, N.C., starting in the fall will be a welcome change.

“I really like the campus – it’s a very diversified campus with students from all over the country,” Mamie said. “I definitely want to get into student government and volunteer work there, and I’m into trying new things.”

Mamie plans to continue her studies in genetics, something she said she stumbled into as an eighth-grader with the help of Francine Hancock, her 4-H leader and agriculture teacher at Weightman Middle School.

Mamie also hopes to be able to do some horseback riding, a favorite pastime, while at Duke. Her horse, Lark’s Moment in Time, will be staying home. “But hopefully, I can find a barn up there and clean some stalls in exchange for riding time,” she said.


With America’s Promise Team in the Oval Office—Mamie Wise

As state President of 4-H with Governor Bush and Governor Crist in Tallahassee, Mamie Wise accepts resolution

With Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sec. of Ag. In D.C., Mamie presents award to them

Salutatorian for 2001

Zephyrhills High salutatorian Carolyn Young will head to Auburn University in Alabama.

“It has a good chemical engineering program,” Carolyn said of her choice of schools. “I went to a few other schools – Georgia Tech and the University of Florida – but it (Auburn) had the best atmosphere and the nicest people.”

For Carolyn, who claims to “love the discipline of math,” preparing for college is a jumble of emotions.

“I’m excited about moving on, but I’m kind of leery about living in a dorm because I’ve never had to share a room,” she said. Still, she says, “I’m taking this as an adventure. I like Zephyrhills High School, but I’m ready to move on.”

Like many high school students, Carolyn said she has spent these past two weeks, “being loaded down with A.P. exams.”

“But I’m not worried,” she said. “I know this sounds funny, but I enjoy taking tests.”

Valedictorian is Mamie Venita Jervis Wise with a GPA of 4.46 weighted.

Future plans: Attend Duke University

Ideal career: Attorney specializing in Genetics Science

Most inspirational person: General Colin Powell. I met him last spring and was impressed by his selfless dedication to America’s youth in “America’s Promise.”

Favorite spot on campus: The outside picnic tables

Favorite book: All Quiet on the Western Front.

Clubs and Extracurricular activities: Pasco County Outstanding Student of the Year, Florida 4-H Council (president), Student Council, District High School Task Force, Future Business Leaders of America (treasurer), Voices United (treasurer), HOBY Delegate, Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month, Pasco County Youth Commission Youth Advisory Board (chairperson), National Honor Society, American Quarter Horse Youth Association World Champion, Teen Court, Impromptu Public Speaking, Varsity Tennis, volunteer work.

Salutatorian: Carolyn Young

GPA: 4.36 weighted

Future plans: Attend Auburn University

Ideal career: Chemical Engineering

Most inspirational person: I have been fortunate to have many sources of inspiration; my family, teachers and friends.

Favorite spot on campus: Bulldog Inn

Favorite book: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller

Clubs and extracurricular activities: Band, Interact Club, National Honor Society (president), Varsity Golf, running in local 5- K races

NFL’s Call Doesn’t Surprise Zephyrhills Grad, St. Petersburg Times, by Jamal Thalji, April 23, 2001

Big Grease” was certain he was headed to the big time.

But only his family believed it when former Zephyrhills High School football star Ryan Pickett said he would be taken in the first round of Saturday’s NFL draft.

The draft experts didn’t. They projected the Ohio State defensive tackle going in the less-lucrative second or third rounds. Pickett, a junior, left college too early. He needed more polish. It was a million-dollar mistake.

No way, Pickett thought.

“I knew I was going in the first round,” Pickett said. “A lot of people laughed at me when I told them I was going in the first round. Every publication had me ranked (low).

“I always knew I was better than that.”

Pickett’s confidence was rewarded Saturday when the Super Bowl

XIV-champion St. Louis Rams chose him with the 29th pick of the first round.

The call the Pickett family had been waiting for came about 4:45 p.m. It was St. Louis, who wanted to let Pickett know that within seconds he would become a Ram. When the announcement was made on ESPN, the entire Pickett clan was jumping and hollering for joy.

“Everyone was just screaming and jumping,” said his mother, Mae. “There was a lot of excitement here. A little bit more and the roof would have blown off. We’ve got relatives from everywhere, cousins, aunties and uncles, brothers and sisters.”

“It felt great,” said his father, Rubin Sr. “I can’t even describe it. Oh, man, it was like total chaos here, the whole house just trembled. It was so funny. Everybody was just extremely happy.”

Said Pickett: “Everybody was more excited than me.”

That call also brought relief to Pickett.

“Man, I can’t even talk, I’m so tired and exhausted,” Pickett said. “But when you hear stuff for so long, you start to believe it. I had confidence I would be a first-rounder, but when everybody’s saying third or fourth, that gets you down. Man, that gets you down emotionally.

“That’s why I’m really happy to get this over with.”

But it’s just the beginning. Later Saturday, he was on a conference call with sportswriters in St. Louis. He explained how he got the nickname “Big Grease” – as a defensive end, his father slipped between blockers, then bestowed the nickname on Ryan at age 10 – and explained how he approaches the game.

“I feel very confident in my ability,” he said. “I have been playing all my life and I am not one to sit back and watch. I plan on getting in and getting involved early.”

Early Sunday morning, he was on a plane to St. Louis to meet team officials and the media. Pickett said he would get his old jersey number, No. 79.

Rams general manager Charley Armey said Pickett first came to the attention of team scout Dave Razzano.

Zephyrhills High School “In Dave’s report, he said that this guy will probably go early in the second round, and probably should be a first-rounder,” Armey said. “But he will be a real standout defensive tackle in the (NFL).”

But Pickett has a lot of work to do, Armey said.

“Is he still kind of a raw and unpolished type of player? He is young,”

Armey said. “He has started (at Ohio State) since he was a freshman. He is just a young, talented football player. We feel very strong about this player. We are very excited. We didn’t have a single negative report come in on this player.”

Pickett, a lifelong Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan, was slightly disappointed he did not get to play for the hometown team. But in St. Louis, he will play in the same defensive scheme the Bucs use.

That’s because former Tampa Bay linebackers coach Lovie Smith was hired in the off-season to be St. Louis’ new defensive coordinator and shore up a defense that became the NFL’s worst a year after the team won the Super Bowl. Pickett was one of three defensive players the Rams took in the first round.

So how much is Pickett likely to make? Rookie salaries in the NFL are accorded by draft position, but there will still be a few details for Pickett’s agent, Terry Bolar of Prestige Sports International, to iron out with the Rams.

Pickett will earn 5 percent more than last year’s No. 29 pick, Southern California receiver R. Jay Soward, who was picked by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Soward signed a five-year contract reportedly worth $5,450,000, including a $2-million signing bonus.

Success in the NFL is fickle, however. Pickett’s former coach, Zephyrhills High’s Tom Fisher, said it depends on many factors.

“He can grunt and groan and lift and run as hard as he can,” Fisher said. “But sometimes it’s when you’re in the right place at the right time. It’s who gets him and how they use him and how bad they need him.”

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, April 18, 2001

Zephyrhills High School students Stephanie Allen, Jennifer LeHeup, Daniel Schneider and Jaclyn Uterhardt were selected to compete in the Pasco County Job Preparation Program district-level competition held on March 22 at Marchman Technical Education Center. Students receiving awards for their art work at the Pasco County Fair: Jennifer Krebiehl and Matt Munger, first place; Andrew Prillman, second place; and Alpu Patel, Doris Towner, Robert Ellison, Jacob McDonald, Joshua Haber, Elizabeth Hazelwood, Danny Brooks, Mamie Wise, Ashley Sheppard, Jamie Turner and Chris Hayes, honorable mentions.

Marine Completes Her Basic Training, St. Petersburg Times, September 1, 2002

Marine Corps Pfc. Mary K. Mason, daughter of Pamela Murray Mason of Dade City and James Mason of Bicknell, Ind., recently completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C., and was promoted to her current rank.

Mason completed 12 weeks of training and learned such skills as first aid, combat water survival, marksmanship and hand-to-hand combat.

Mason is a 2001 graduate of Zephyrhills High School.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, April 11, 2001

The Zephyrhills High School Symphonic Band recently competed in the “All America Music Festival” in Orlando. Three students at the festival earned a Superior rating; all three were from Zephyrhills High School. David D’Antonio was selected as the Top Soloist Overall and won a new alto saxophone, Jonathan Nace took second place, and Brian Schmidt placed third. In other music news, David Kanter earned a Superior rating as the Zephyrhills High School Student Conductor in the FBA Concert Festival.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, March 14, 2001

Zephyrhills High School senior and valedictorian Mamie Wise recently was designated as a finalist in the 2001 National Merit Scholarship competition, a distinction earned only by the top half- percent of all students who participated in nationwide testing. John Horton was honored with a National Award from the Society for the Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge. Students named winners at the recent FBLA District XI competition were: Brandon Tull, accounting, first place; Mamie Wise: impromptu speaking, second place; Melissa Zandy: Introduction to Business Communication, second place; Fred Hartless: Networking Concepts, third place; Terri Graddy: Introduction to Business, third place. The following students won awards at the Art Club of Zephyrhills Annual Members Show: Carissa Foster, first place; Andrew Prillman, second place; Sara Burnett, third place; Melissa Miller, honorable mention. Other students exhibiting work: Ashley Brownsburger, Chris Hinkle, Leslie Odom, Katrina Tan and Akela Teartt.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, March 7, 2001

Zephyrhills High School All-County Band members were: Tiffany Kimball, Jessica Fife, Josephine Medeiros, Chantel Hayden, Jessica Tew, Tamela Heslin, David D’Antonio, Jessica Doolittle, Brian Schmidt, John O’Leary and Conely Nash.

For Real Series, St. Petersburg Times, By Michelle Miller, Feb. 21, 2001

A one-act play takes an unflinching look at the teenage experience, from crushes, the FCAT, pregnancy and drugs to suicidal thoughts.

If you want to know something, just go to the source.

That’s what drama teacher Greg Burdick did when he wanted his students to present an honest take on what it’s like to be a teenager today.

In December he invited every student at Zephyrhills High School to write a short scene that would give an audience a glimpse into his or her world. Those whose scripts made the grade would also have a chance to perform.

His students came through in a big way with a variety of monologues and scenes that, when combined, became a delightful and insightful one-act play. Snapshots, written and performed by Zephyrhills High School students, were presented last week for three shows in an intimate

setting in the high school gymnasium.

The play opened with the playing of the Cure’s song Pictures of You during a clever dark room scene. It featured some dramatic lighting techniques by operators Christina Copes and Josh Lennard while “photographer” and actor Andrew Counsell went about the business of developing and holding up real snapshots of each member of the cast, who suddenly appeared on stage striking the same snapshot pose.

From then on, the audience was treated to a live photo album of sorts that encompassed a wide range of teenage and sometimes adult emotions. Teenage pregnancy, always being the new kid in school, substance abuse, born-again Christianity, high school crushes and getting asked out for real – it was all there and then some.

There’s the kid in a tug-of-war between chasing girls and his studies, who describes himself as “the screwed-up middle child of society.” There’s the girl who has just been dumped for the new hotty in town but comes to terms on her own that there are, indeed, other fish in the sea; the parents who grapple with their own runaway emotions – from anger to fear – when it seems their teenage daughter has blown off curfew, only to discover she has been at home in bed the entire time; the guy who always ends up being “just a good friend” instead of getting the girl; and the “goth kid,” whose mood is just as dark as his attire and finds himself contemplating suicide by slitting his wrists.

“Vertical, not horizontal – horizontal is just a cry for help,” written and spoken by senior David Kanter, was probably the most disturbing line in the play.

There are lighter moments, too – like a barb at all the hubbub surrounding the FCAT from senior Erica Freeman, and Melissa Betancourt’s “worst day” scenario because the CD player, computer and cable all go on the fritz at once.

Although self-described “semi-goth” David Kanter said he has never thought about committing suicide, some cast members said their scenes were somewhat autobiographical.

Ashley Lovelace and Kim Martin re-created a real-life scene in which one character finally gets the gumption to call the guy of her dreams – and lands a date with him.

Matt McLaughlin, who because of his father’s job changes has moved from place to place, is a real-life new kid in town, who said he has had his share of difficulties making friends, as depicted in his bitter monologue.

Charles Carroccetto, “the screwed-up middle child of society,” said he had no problem putting himself – his words and his acting ability – up for public view. In fact, he rather enjoyed it.

“I thought this was really nifty,” he said. “It wasn’t just reading these scripted lines like usual. This is me.”

As director and teacher, Burdick was pleased with his students’ acting ability and honesty in writing their scripts.

“This is all them; they gave me the material,” Burdick said. “This really shows the peaks and valleys of being an adolescent – the lighter, fun moments and the more difficult moments. I think it’s a play that everyone should see.”


The cast: Andrew Counsell, Charles Carroccetto, Matt Henning, Rebecca Green, Melissa Betancourt, Jonelle Nordstrom, Danny Brooks, Toni Sozio, Jennifer Schneider, Ryan Suggs, Darlene Schneider, David Kanter, Jason Mooneyham, Nikki Dittler, Flora McKenzie, Erica Freeman, Brandi McGlaun, Ashley Lovelace, Kim Martin, Matt McLaughlin.

Technical staff: Andrew Counsell, Justin Aultman, Christina Copes, Josh Lennard, Todd Palmer, Cara Yoder, Therron Hamaker, Josh Lennard, Kaitlyn Dolly, Alexis Funnell, Danny Brooks, Kristin Gutierrez, Ammaris Raposo, Carlos Luna, Pedro Hernandez, Matt Counts, A.J. Morgan, Jonathan O’Neil.

Matt McLaughlin delivers an autobiographical monologue on being the new kid in town and the struggle to make friends.

Flora McKenzie, left, and Nikki Dittler rehearse their parts for Snapshots, written and performed by Zephyrhills High School students last week.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, May 23, 2001

David D’Antonio was named Student of the Month at Zephyrhills High School. Ms. Marta Cuevas, an English Speakers of Other Languages paraprofessional, was named School Related Person of the Month. Ms. Idel Lane, Diversified Cooperative Training coordinator, was named Teacher of the Month. Chandel Freiermuth was named Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Month. Pasco County Math Contest winners: Calculus Team and Carolyn Young for calculus, first place; Geometry Team, Mike Nelson for Calculus and Shawn Newman for Geometry, second place; Brian Milligan for Calculus, third place; Pre-calculus Team, fourth place; Algebra II Team and Mat Williams for Algebra, fifth place. Top Dog recipients were: Theresa Cerf, Josh Harrington and Len Sones. These students competed in the 20th Annual Congressional Art Competition for High School Art Students and received a certificate from Representative Mike Bilirakis: Sara Burnette, Jamie Czeremcha, Kim Flaherty, Melissa Miller, Andrew Prilliman, Katrina Tan and Arkela Teartt.

Youth City Council to Debut Tonight, St. Petersburg Times, February 21, 2001, by Brady Dennis

The six Zephyrhills High School students will make presentations to English classes and hold a forum to educate others about local government.

City Council members will meet their youthful counterparts for the first time tonight.

Members of the newly formed youth city council will be introduced at today’s 6 p.m. meeting at city hall.

The six interim youth council members, all of whom applied and were appointed, will get the program up and running in time for an April election at Zephyrhills High School.

“We are all excited about it,” said Bob Hatfield, a ZHS government teacher who helped get the program on its feet. “These kids are among the very best our high school has to offer. They are dynamite.”

Vanessa Bowman, Chris Black and valedictorian Mamie Wise are the council’s three seniors. There also are three juniors: Ashley Parsons, Marie Risavalto and Jennifer Kriebel.

Hatfield said the current crop of young leaders will make presentations to English classes throughout the school, as well as hold an after-school forum to educate fellow students about local government.

The idea for a youth council was the pet project of City Councilwoman Cathi Compton, who was proud to see her idea come to fruition.

“It’s a very positive program, and I feel like most council members are supportive of our youth,” Compton said recently. “I’m sure it will be exciting to (the youths). Working in politics was new to me just two years ago, and there’s such an enormous amount that you can learn from it.”

Hatfield said the young politicians aren’t the only ones who will benefit from having a youth council:

“I think it’s going to be good for the council as well to hear from young people and see that there are a lot of positive kids out there who can actually contribute some ideas we elder statesmen sometimes overlook.”

Newsmakers, St. Petersburg Times, November 29, 2000, Section: Pasco

Top Dog students at Zephyrhills High School: Tabitha Everidge, Amara Monbarren and Jessica Tew. David D’Antonio has been selected to represent Zephyrhills High School at Florida State University’s Tri-State Honor Band. Jessica Fife, Tiffany Kimball, Jonathan Nace and John O’Leary will be representing the school at the University of South Florida “Festival of Winds” Honor Band. JROTC cadet Derek Meier has been recognized for providing emergency assistance and directing traffic at the scene of an automobile accident. JROTC cadets Nicole Gregory, John Horton, Danny Huffman, Michael Johnson, Charles Poole, Brett Seigler and Kelly Williams were also commended for helping out at the recent College Night.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, February 14, 2001

At Zephyrhills High School more than 130 present and former staff and family members honored Mrs. Karen Knight during a retirement luncheon held recently. During her 22-year tenure Mrs. Knight served in positions at West Zephyrhills Elementary, Woodland Elementary, Pasco Middle and Zephyrhills High. Chris Black was named January Student of the Month at Zephyrhills. Health Assistant Debbie Limoges was selected as the School related person of the month and Shirley Cherry was named Teacher of the Month in recognition of their efforts with the Assist Believe and Care program at the school. Carolyn Young was selected to represent Zephyrhills High as the Chamber of Commerce Student of the Month. Senior Derek Meier has been nominated to attend the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., by congressman Michael Bilirakis. Top Dog referrals went to Chris Boyette and Jonathan Mine.

Only Wins Are Lacking From Bulldogs- Basketball, St. Petersburg Times, by Jamal Thalji, February 2, 2001

Zephyrhills’ Kenny McCullough is one of the best players in Pasco County – despite his team’s two wins. He never has – and likely never will – see the post-season. He has never gotten past the first round of a district tournament. He has been among the county’s scoring and assist leaders for three seasons now, but hasn’t enjoyed a winning record for the last two. Kenny McCullough is one of Pasco County’s best players, toiling for one of the county’s most downtrodden teams.

His three-year career as Zephyrhills’ point guard will come to an end in weeks, and likely his senior year will end like all the others, with a first-round district loss for a Bulldogs’ squad that is now 2-20.

McCullough, though, is taking it in stride. He has accepted his lot in basketball life, elevating his game even as the team has regressed around him.

”I thought we’d be a little better,” he said. “But that’s all right. We’ve just got to play together, that’s all.” Playing together is all the Bulldogs have left.

Ironically, Zephyrhills’ only wins of the season came after three key players quit the team, according to coach Tom O’Donnell. Five of the team’s six seniors have never played at the varsity level before this season, and the other lone senior, McCullough, is often all the team has.

He leads the Bulldogs in nearly every statistical category. He is the leading scorer with 22.2 points per game; he is tops in steals with a 3.67 average; he is the assists leader, averaging 2.67; the leader from the free-throw line, shooting 69 percent; and he is third in rebounds with 4.62 a game.

He has scored 467 points this season, which is 48 percent of Zephyrhills’ offensive output. He could be a contender for Sunshine Athletic Conference player of the year if his team was doing any better.

Often coaches don’t want their top players to be getting so many touches. But Zephyrhills has no choice. As hard as his teammates try, no one else has the skill, experience or talent McCullough has. In seasons past, the knock on McCullough was that he tried to do too much, tried to lift too heavy of a load. This season, his coach knows he has to carry as much as he can, and then some.

“In games he still tries to take too much upon himself,” O’Donnell said. “But if he doesn’t, no one else will. “I think he’s under better control this year, which means I think he is more disciplined in giving it up when he needs to. You need him on the floor. He’s doing a better job of getting the ball to people.

“The problem is a lot of players aren’t doing anything with it when he gets it to them.”

O’Donnell said McCullough straddles a fine line. He needs to be selfish with the ball and also know when to look for his teammates.

“Everybody on the team understands that he’s the go-to guy, that he is the guy who has to have the most touches,” the coach said. “But at the same time, he’s not selfish with the ball. He wants others to do well.” Indeed, McCullough offers tips during practice and encourages his team at halftime on top of his duties as chief playmaker on the court.

O’Donnell understands if McCullough is silently frustrated with his lot.

“I think it is frustrating for him,” the coach said. “Obviously it’d be nice to have some more complementary players with him. Last year, we had a Dustin Newman or a Chris Rogers to drop it off too. This year is more frustrating because this team should have more experience than last year’s but doesn’t.”

McCullough does have some personal goals left to pursue this season, however. Namely, supplanting cousin Demetrius “Boo Boo” McKay, a former Zephyrhills football and basketball standout, in the record books. McCullough’s single-game high of 32 points this season bested McKay’s by a point. Next up: McKay’s school record of 10 three- pointers in a game.

McCullough has hit six in a game this season. “Don’t tell coach yet that I’m going for it,” McCullough said.  The senior has also breached the 1,000-point barrier this year.  McCullough takes satisfaction in being a leader in his final season, and a teacher on the court. In a way, it makes up for all those losses.

“Being a senior means I’ve got to be a leader,” he said. “So that means that some elements of the game I have to help coach them. “I guess I’m kind of a player-coach, yeah.”

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, January 17, 2001

Charles Helm has been named December Student of the Month at Zephyrhills High School. Para-professional Rhonda Gollhardt was named School Related Person of the Month. Coach Tom Fisher was commended as Teacher of the Month. November

Bulldogs Finally Could Enjoy Team Success, St. Petersburg Times, by Jamal Thalji, February 8, 2001

The fates were not aligned against Zephyrhills during the past two seasons. If anything, it was the Bulldogs’ own wrestlers who constantly vexed the program.

In the past, the Bulldogs had wrestlers who could not stay eligible, letting their grades plummet just before the conference tournament; who had trouble deciding if they were really committed to the sport; who had trouble just showing up every day.

That doesn’t even include the daily dose of injuries every team suffers through.

The end result was Zephyrhills never had a shot to win as a team.

Only individual Bulldogs could excel in the post-season.

Those days seem long gone now.

Zephyrhills set a school record this season, winning 17 dual meets, and has high hopes of challenging favored Pasco at the Class A, District 8 tournament, which starts at 2 p.m. Friday at Bartow.

It’s hard to say exactly what is so different about this season’s squad, but coach Kevin Epifanio gives it a try.

“I attribute it to a combination of things,” he said. “I attribute it to the work that I’ve gotten out of the kids this year and the specific moves that we’ve taught, the specific attitude in the room.

“It’s just a whole collection of things that has brought us to this point.”

It’s that and a good crop of wrestlers who could all reach the state tournament.

Senior Ryan Hall is 40-4 in the 125-pound division. Fellow senior Charlie Helm is 40-6 at 215, losing two to defending state champion Robb Philippus of Hudson and three to River Ridge’s Nate Way. Sophomore Nick Spine is 37-7 in his sophomore campaign, following up on a fine freshman season at 112. Joining those veterans is Matt Engels, a 140-pound junior who is 25-11.

Together, they have helped propel the Bulldogs to a 17-10 record that bests by two the previous mark of 15 set in 1989.

That’s despite forfeiting 103 and 189 and at times giving up anywhere between 24 to 30 points.

Zephyrhills already is the surprise of the county, finishing third at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet.

Pasco coach Mark DeAugustino did not bring many of his best wrestlers in part because of his dissatisfaction with the format. That opened the door for an up-and-coming team like Zephyrhills to challenge the county’s other powers.

The Bulldogs finished the tournament 6-2, losing only to first- place Land O’ Lakes 63-14 and runner-up Hudson 49-24. A 4-0 start on the tournament’s first day and a 39-38 win over Ridgewood earned Zephyrhills third place.

The Bulldogs sent five to the finals, and Spine and Hall emerged as champions.

Part of the adjustment this season, Epifanio said, has been mental.

Practicing in their new wrestling room, the team is more eager to learn from Epifanio and assistant coach Matt McDermott than ever.

“We’re teaching new stuff, but we’re teaching it in a different manner,” Epifanio said. “And it seems they’re able to pick it up better; breaking it down a little bit differently this year; asking questions like, ‘What are you going to do in this situation?’

“It has to be that way. But they can’t win if they don’t believe it, no matter what you’re teaching them.”

Newsmakers, St. Petersburg Times, November 22, 2000, Section: Pasco

Erica Braun, Keathel Chauncey and Jason Hiscock were commended with Top Dog referrals at Zephyrhills High School. The following students have been named members of the 2000-2001 teen court: Olivia Alexander, Keathel Chauncey, Marcus Cunio, Alex DelRosario, Russell Ealy, Rachel Gregory, William Jason Herndon, Simone Howton, Jennifer Kreiehl, Payal Patel, Princess Roshell, Arkela Teartt and Mamie Wise. Joshua Travers and Todd McLeod have been named Advanced Placement scholars by the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the college-level AP examinations.

Newsmakers, St. Petersburg Times, November 15, 2000, Section: Pasco

The following Zephyrhills High School students were selected by the faculty as Very Important Teens for the class of 2001: Mia Billetdeaux, Chris Black, Vanessa Bowman, John Briscoe, Eric Cortright, Andrea Counsell, Katie Duval, Courtney Dwyer, Ashley McGavern, Tyson Prickett, Kristin Rollins, Princess Roshell, Danny Wardell, Mamie Wise, and Carolyn Young. National Honor Society officers are: President: Carolyn Young. Vice president: Ashley McGavern. Secretary: Kristen Benedini. Treasurer: Brian Milligan.

Friend of the Solitary-Top of the Class, by Michelle Miller, St. Petersburg Times, October 25, 2000

A high school junior puts his patience and gentle nature to work with autistic children.

Tim Armstrong has a gift. When it comes to working with children with autism, the Zephyrhills High School junior has a way of seeing beyond their disability, a way of bringing them out of their solitary world.

His gift is something he shares daily in the autistic classroom at Woodland Elementary School. There Tim spends a few hours each day helping out, gently encouraging youngsters to learn.

Whether he’s building a house with Lincoln Logs with 5-year-old Austin Froehlich or carrying 9-year-old Markie Porrey on his hip, Tim never seems to stray from his calm nature. Even if the children kick or bite, Tim just shrugs it off, says Darla Parry, who teaches in the Exceptional Education classroom along with Carmela Gallagher and Billy Poe. “He just says, ‘Oh, that’s okay, and goes on,’ ” Ms. Parry says. “Even though some of them don’t talk, they tell you what they need,” says Tim, who is himself in an Exceptional Education program at Zephyrhills High School.

“When I was little, I was quiet, pretty much. I didn’t say much, so I think I understand them,” Tim said.

“Basically we help them play and they learn things through that,” he said. “They don’t do well sitting still, but somehow you get through to them.”

Tim’s gentle nature and his ability to work with even the most difficult students has garnered admiration from teachers he works with and recently earned him a Top Dog referral, an award given monthly to those who perform above and beyond at Zephyrhills High School.

“It’s not easy to be around a classroom of students with significant disabilities,” said Nancy Davis, the school psychologist at Woodland who nominated Tim for the award after observing him in action. “It’s real nice to see someone as young as he is so comfortable, so poised, and doing a great job.”

“People like him don’t come around too often. Tim gets right in there,” Ms. Parry says. “He sees things in these kids that others don’t. The ones (students) that are particularly difficult go to Tim.”

Ms. Parry is so impressed with the work Tim does in her classroom that she is hoping to see him become a paraprofessional after graduation and work his way toward teaching.

In a time when ESE teaching positions are tough to fill, Tim’s presence would be a real blessing, said Ms. Parry. Next year he might very well work in her classroom full time as part of a special Diploma II program. “I want to do that badly,” said Tim, who is quick to shrug off praise and wants it known that his classmates Sally Dunbar and Matt Bouchard also help out in the autistic classroom.

“I never thought I wanted to do this – be a teacher – but its fun.”

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, October 25, 2000

At Zephyrhills High School, four students have been recognized as commended students on the National Merit Scholarship Exam. Eric Cortright, Brian Milligan and Carolyn Young were honored for scoring in the upper 5 percent of more than 1-million students who took this exam. Mamie Wise was acknowledged as a semi-finalist. She scored in the upper 1 percent of those who tested. Top Dog students were: Mia Billetdeaux, Tim Carter, Keoki Funes, Charles Poole, Katrina Tan and Aaron Zorik all volunteered for a total of 171.5 hours at the Zephyrhills Neighborhood Care Center. Timothy Armstrong was named a Top Dog student for his volunteer work with autistic students at Woodland Elementary School. At Zephyrhills High School, senior Mamie Wise has been named Student of the Month. Mrs. Loretta Steuart has been named School Resource Person of the Month. Spanish instructor Ms. Barbara Clary Zayas has been named Teacher of the Month.

You Might Love “I Hate Hamlet” Series, St. Petersburg Times, October 25, 2000

Zephyrhills High School actors present Paul Rudnick’s ghostly comedy I Hate Hamlet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday in the school’s Activity Center. (Rudnick, whose I Hate Hamlet was a Broadway success in 1991, also wrote the plays Jeffrey and The Naked Truth and the movies Addams Family Values and In & Out and writes a film column for Premiere magazine under the pseudonym Libby Gelman- Waxner.) Tickets are $4 and seating is limited. For information, call (813) 794-9551. Jonelle Nordstrom, 16, smells the flowers held by a knight in shining armor during a dress rehearsal Friday; Andrew Counsell, 15, practices his fencing moves Friday for the provocatively titled comedy I Hate Hamlet

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, October 18, 2000

Jose Arriaga, 14, of Zephyrhills celebrates in a kiddie-pool on the freshman class float Thursday during the Zephyrhills High School homecoming parade. Jose repeatedly yelled “freshmen” during his ride on the float, which utilized a spring break theme. He said he was having a blast “hanging out, chillin’ and having a good time” during the parade through downtown Zephyrhills.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, October 11, 2000

Teen Court members are: Olivia Alexander, Keathel Chauncey, Marcus Cunio, Alex DelRosario, Russell Ealy, Rachel Gregory, William Jason Herndon, Simone Howton, Jennifer Krebiehl, Payal Patel, Princess Roshell, Arkela Teartt, Mamie Wise.

High Stakes At Heat In Nine Mile War, St. Petersburg Times, By Jamal Thalji, October 5, 2000, Section: Sports

Pasco and Zephyrhills are both still alive for the SAC championship, adding even more importance to Friday’s game.

Pride, along with practically everything else, is at stake Friday night when Pasco and Zephyrhills renew a rivalry that dates back to 1941: “The 9-Mile War.” That’s what happens when two schools sit just 9 miles – actually 8.3 miles – from each other. “We’ve got relatives that play each other, we’ve got teachers who coach (at Pasco) and their kids play here, and we’ve got coaches who teach at Pasco and coach here,” Zephyrhills coach Tom Fisher said.

“Everyone’s so close to each other. When you’ve got communities involved in it, it’s not just a ballgame, it’s a community affair.” Pasco coach Ricky Thomas agrees.

“It’s a big rivalry,” he said. “I suspect both sides will play very hard.”

No doubt. Because as usual, the aspirations of both teams ride on the outcome.

For Zephyrhills, it is a must-win game if the 4-1 Bulldogs are to retain any hopes of finishing runner-up in the Hillsborough County- dominated Class 3A, District 6 race.

A loss to district-leader Jefferson and a win over Hudson has Zephyrhills tied with Jesuit in the district standings, and both teams are sitting right behind Robinson and Jefferson.

The Bulldogs are also in the thick of the Sunshine Athletic Conference race, with a 4-0 head start on defending champion Land O’ Lakes (3-1, 2-0 in SAC). If both stay undefeated in the conference that would set up a showdown for the SAC title Nov. 10 in the season finale.

Pasco, having lost to Robinson and Jesuit, is likely out of the district race. But the Pirates are still in the SAC hunt. Pasco has already beaten Ridgewood and has the rest of its SAC schedule looming. A loss Friday and the Pirates no longer control their conference destiny.

“It’s just an important game in all different respects,” Fisher said. “It will give us five wins, it will give us another conference win, and another district win. We’ve still got three other district games left, so we must go out there and play sound football and let everything else fall into place.”

The big storyline, however, is what will Pasco do without Kenny Roberts? He was suspended for the game after being ejected for what Thomas described as “excessive talking” during a loss at Jesuit on Sept. 22. The Florida High School Activities Association denied an appeal of the suspension on Tuesday.

The senior fullback and linebacker is a linchpin on offense and defense for the Pirates. He is the team’s leading rusher with 405 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, he leads the team with 20 tackles and seven assists.

“We’re going to miss him, no question about it,” Thomas said. “He’s very valuable on both sides of the football. Probably he’s more valuable defensively. He kind of holds that defense together.”

Replacing Roberts on offense will be 6-foot-2, 225-pound sophomore Devon Hicks.

Linebacker was already a key area of concern for Thomas, because Josh Hughes is out for the season with a knee injury. In Pasco’s 6-2 defense, Jason Dorman will continue to start at one linebacker position and Alvaro Moreno and Joe Howell will rotate at the other spot.

Hicks, though, is the real concern. Thomas is high on the sophomore, but wary of his inexperience.

“Devon Hicks is an unproven talent, but he’s been waiting on this opportunity,” Thomas said. “He’s played in every game up until this point. He says he’s ready. My only concern is that he’s never started a whole game; he’s never started at that position.

“But physically he has all the tools.”

The thought of an unknown player deciding the game has also occurred to Fisher. He said his team will not take Pasco lightly in any case, especially with Pirates star wide receiver Joe Bain still in the mix.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to offset their other weapons,” Fisher said. “Whether it’s Joe Bain, or some unsung hero, or an unknown hero, or whatever. When people surface when given the chance to, we have to watch out for them. We can’t just focus on Bain. We have to focus on all their other positions, also.”

Thomas said Roberts’ suspension has already drawn his team closer.

“This has happened several times in my career, you lose a star player, and the rest of the team draws closer together,” Thomas said. “You can tell by the way they’re coming together they’re already starting to do that.”

There is another factor in this year’s rivalry: home field advantage. Because of a scheduling quirk, Pasco has hosted and won the last two meetings. Friday’s game will be at Bulldog Stadium for the first time since 1997, when Zephyrhills won 33-0.

Also, this year’s game will be taped by Channel Won Sports and televised Monday at 7 p.m. on local cable on Channel 2 and then broadcast statewide on the Sunshine Network at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

Not that the coaches care. Will they even watch it?

“If we win,” Fisher said. “Yeah.”

The Series—Zephyrhills High versus Pasco High in football in the years that they have played. Pasco leads 30-12 as of 1998.

Year Winner Score
1941 Pasco 32-0
1944 Pasco 38-0
1945 Pasco 19-0
1946 Pasco 54-0
1947 Pasco 34-0
1948 Pasco 33-6
1949 Pasco 21-7
1954 Pasco 51-18
1955 Pasco 41-14
1969 Pasco 7-3
1970 Pasco 19-6
1971 Zephyrhills 42-14
1972 Pasco 35-0
1973 Pasco 49-0
1974 Pasco 6-0
1975 Zephyrhills 7-6
1976 Pasco 34-0
1977 Pasco 50-22
1978 Zephyrhills 48-0
1979 Pasco 27-7
1980 Pasco 21-0
1981 Pasco 26-20
1982 Zephyrhills 19-18
1983 Pasco 10-7
1984 Pasco 19-0
1985 Pasco 37-7
1986 Zephyrhills 35-14
1987 Zephyrhills 20-3
1988 Zephyrhills 13-7
1989 Zephyrhills 36-6
1990 Zephyrhills 19-7
1991 Pasco 35-7
1992 Pasco 48-6
1993 Pasco 40-21
1993 Zephyrhills 9-7
1994 Pasco 27-14
1994 Pasco 46-7
1995 Zephyrhills 23-20
1996 Pasco 24-21
1997 Zephyrhills 33-0
1998 Pasco 13-8
1998 Pasco 16-10

Bulldogs Golf Team Earning Coaches Well-Earned Praise, St. Petersburg Times, by Jamal Thalji, September 28, 2000

Coach Bob Hatfield can be awfully blunt when it comes to the play of his team.

He won’t hesitate to criticize his players if their long game isn’t long enough, if their short game isn’t good enough, or if their play on the greens makes him, well, turn green.

So when he hands out a compliment, it has to be special.

“We’re having the best season since I’ve been coaching,” he said. “We’re getting good play from the whole lineup, and we’ve had two really unexpected surprises. I knew our first four were really tough, but I worried about having any depth and now our No. 5 and 6 players have both shot in the 30s in competition, more than once.

“They’re kind of picking us up when we’re not playing well.”

No, Zephyrhills (7-1-1) isn’t undefeated. Considering that Hatfield regularly sends his troops into battle against the Tampa Bay area’s top opponents, an undefeated season seems a bit of a reach. This year, the only team to defeat Zephyrhills was Wharton.

Though the Bulldogs shot a 148, the Wildcats struck back with a 142 in an amazing afternoon of golf.

“We lost and we had one of our best rounds ever,” Hatfield said. “They played unreal good golf. They shot 142 on a course they’re not familiar with. They played super. That’s an excellent golf team, and you’ll see them at the state tournament.”

So, with the team averaging about a 150 every day, Zephyrhills seems to be cruising toward the Sunshine Athletic Conference title – barring an unforeseen collapse.

The leader, as always, is Chris Black, who is averaging 36.0 this season, about 1 1/2 fewer strokes than a year ago.

“It’s his work ethic,” Hatfield said. “He’s really taking it to the next level, and he’s really serious about trying to earn some college playing opportunities.”

The only real problem this season has been back problems suffered by returning state qualifier Mike Wagner. He’s averaging 36.6 on nine holes this year, almost a stroke better than last year, and when healthy, is No. 2 only because of Black.

“He’s fighting off what has become a persistent back problem,” Hatfield said. “We held him out of the match against Land O’ Lakes, and we’ve held him out of practice. He’s our biggest concern right now, how much longer can he last this season?”

If Wagner can’t go on this season, then Hatfield will look for A. J. Blackstone and his 41 average to step in. But Hatfield hopes it doesn’t come to Wagner having to miss more playing time.

“That would be a major disappointment with his competitive attitude,” the coach said. “I can’t see Mike not playing, unless he just can’t go.”

Kyle Pierson and Mark Dunn are two other standouts rounding out the top foursome. Hatfield said even without Wagner, he expects Zephyrhills to contend in the SAC race and the Class A, District 5 tourney, against Saddlebrook no less. The concern, though, is if the team can do without an injured Wagner in the regional tourney, which is the new gateway to the state finals added by the Florida High School Activities Association this year.

“Without Mike in the lineup, we still manage to shoot our season average of 150,” Hatfield said, “But whether we can get out of regionals without Mike in the lineup, I don’t know.”

Hudson-Zephyrhills Playing for Momentum-Football, St. Petersburg Times, September 8, 2000

The level of emotion for tonight’s Hudson-Zephyrhills match up is no less intense that it has been in past clashes.

Only the reasons have changed.

This contest turned personal last season. The Bulldogs and Cobras were both 1-0 heading into this showdown. Zephyrhills was eager to avenge a 29-18 loss at home in 1998 that ended the Bulldogs’ 20-game home winning streak and keep the momentum going into a tough district.

Likewise, new Hudson coach Terry Voyles wanted his team to hold on to its momentum and go 2-0 because, after all, the Cobras played in that same tough district.

The Bulldogs won it 17-13 when Brett Cimorelli hit Michael Moody with a 56-yard touchdown pass with 2:16 left.

After that, neither team seemed to play again at such a high level. Both team’s endured injuries and neither squad could compete against the Hillsborough County powers that ruled Class 3A, District 6.

After a 2-0 start, Zephyrhills stumbled to a 3-7 record, and then lost those victories because a player was later ruled ineligible. Hudson also won three games last season, but added a win when the loss to Zephyrhills was overturned.

Both teams, however, were winless against Hillsborough County teams in the ’99 district race.

So a year later, the circumstances have changed, but not the stakes: Each team is determined to join in the 3A-6 race for the playoffs; a loss likely would knock a team out just as the race begins.

“It’s the first district game for both of us,” Voyles said. “At this point in time, every major game is important for both of us. We’re both 1-0 and we want to keep it going. I think it’s just as important to them as it is to us.”

Bulldogs coach Tom Fisher agreed that this game is critical to both teams.

“It would mean a lot, especially since these (district) games are only going to get tougher and tougher,” he said. “If we’re able to get by Hudson this week, it’ll be even tougher against River Ridge.”

Both teams also want to hold onto their hard-won momentum after the season’s first week.

Zephyrhills dominated Wesley Chapel 34-6. Moody, now at tailback, rushed for three touchdowns and a 130 yards, and new quarterback John Briscoe threw for 79 yards in his varsity debut. The Bulldogs controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage against the Wildcats, and displayed impressive team speed.

Hudson survived a tough 20-18 win over Gulf, which was won when quarterback Robbie Mahler directed a 61-yard game winning drive. He threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Barton with 58 seconds left to tie the game 18-18. When the extra-point snap was snapped high, Mahler snatched it and ran the ball in for the 2-point conversion. Fullback Steve Gordon rushed for 100 yards, but fumbled four times, losing one.

Each coach is wary of the other team. Voyles admits Zephyrhills has the advantage in speed, but neither coach can afford to take an opponent lightly with much tougher district games against Jesuit, Jefferson, Robinson and Blake ahead.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Voyles said. “They’re real quick. We watched them on the film; they’re real fast off the defensive line. We’re going to have to play real good if we want to beat them.”

Fisher wants his team to capitalize on more scoring opportunities; he is also somewhat concerned with Hudson’s rushing attack.

“I think they’re going to play a tough gamer,” he said. “They have a pretty good running attack.

“I think every team is up for us, because in the past, when we had our good teams, we thumped them pretty good, any chance they have to get back (at us), they will.”

Flag Waving Spirit, St. Petersburg Times, September 8, 2000

Amanda Clayton, left, and Tina Emery, members of the Zephyrhills High School flag corps, practice their routines in the hallway next to the school’s gym Wednesday afternoon. Tonight at 7:30, the Zephyrhills High Bulldogs will take on the Hudson High Cobras at Bulldog Stadium, 6335 12th St. The seven-member flag corps will perform with the marching band during half-time shows at football games this season. The flag corps is open to boys and girls.

Zephyrhills Bulldog Preview, St. Petersburg Times, September 1, 2000

After a disappointing 0-10 season, coach Tom Fisher will guide the defense and has given control of the offense to Chris Bounnell.

Coach Tom Fisher has more pressing matters than dwelling on what went wrong in 1999.

A Florida High School Activities Association ruling that Aaron Guynn was an ineligible player cost the Bulldogs dearly. So rather than a second consecutive three-win season, Zephyrhills was left with its second 0-10 record in Fisher’s 11 seasons.

“That was just a freak error,” Fisher said of Guynn’s summer transcript that initially counted two credits, but later was changed to 1 1/2 and making him ineligible. “When it was checked he had it.”

Regardless of the ruling, Fisher said his returning players “know we won those three games.”

Moving on, Fisher is more concerned with taking over the defense while allowing former defensive coordinator Chris Bounnell to call the shots on offense.

Following two lackluster seasons, Fisher felt a change was in order. Besides, it is not the first time he has handled the defensive duties. Fisher joined the Zephyrhills staff in 1986 as a defensive coordinator under the late Barry Gardner, and then switched to offense when he became head coach in 1989.

Longtime defensive coordinator Bounnell is entrusted with the development of quarterback/kicker/punter John Briscoe, an all- conference soccer player. In Bounnell’s opinion, Zephyrhills’ fortunes hinge on Briscoe, who takes over for Brett Cimorelli, last year’s quarterback/kicker/punter who booted a school-record 55-yard field goal and will kick for Florida State this fall. “John Briscoe is our leader,” Bounnell said. “We’re going to go as John Briscoe goes.

With 4.6 (seconds) speed in the 40-yard dash, Briscoe fits right into Bounnell’s offensive scheme “to run away from everybody.”

Wide receivers Kenneth McCullough and Laurence Graham, along with running backs A.J. Devonshire and Michael Moody, will be hard to catch. All are fast. Even 240-pound fullback Len Sones runs a 4.8 40.

But experience, or the lack thereof, will factor into the offensive production. Only McCullough and Sones are proven seniors. They should put up more impressive numbers as should Moody, a junior who last year rushed for 111 yards, had 13 catches for 198 yards and scored two touchdowns.

At a Glance: The Bulldog colors are black and orange and they are in class 3A of district 6. Their playoff history includes years: 1989, 1993, 1995 and 1997. The last appearance was beating Crystal River at 7-0; they lost to Gainesville Eastside 24-0.

Tom Fisher, who is switching roles this season with former defensive coordinator Chris Bounnell, coached defense for Zephyrhills from 1986 to 1988 before replacing Barry Gardner as head coach in 1989.

Scouting Report -The offense

Passing Game: Bounnell compares Briscoe to former Bulldog Jamie Sullivan, a fleet-footed quarterback who later transferred to Pasco. However, Briscoe must improve on last year’s meager totals of three carries for minus 24 yards to go along with two completions. McCullough needs a breakout season and Graham, who had three catches for 55 yards for a team-leading 18.3 average, is the deep threat. Tight end Justin Whitworth also is an option. At 5-foot-4, Ben Raines is the smallest receiver, but with 4.6 speeds he will get open.

Running Game: Sones, a solid blocker, will also be used to bang out tough yards up the middle and open up the outside for Moody and Devonshire. Devonshire rushed for 12 yards and had six catches for 38 yards last year. Both Moody and Devonshire can catch the ball out of the backfield, which should provide Briscoe with plenty of options when the quarterback is under pressure.

Line: The experience of seniors Helm, Howard and Walters should make holes for Sones to run through. Joe Sokol and Jesse Dettman are the likely candidates to fill the remaining vacancies, and Bounnell is counting on Whitworth to throw his share of blocks.

The defense

Line: Whitworth moves from linebacker to defensive end and Fisher is banking on him to get into the other team’s backfield.

“He’s quick,” Fisher said. “He’s probably one of the best natural athletes we’ve got.” Helm, Walters and Dettman are the other interior linemen.

Linebackers: The strength of the Bulldogs’ defense lies in the middle of the line backing corps with Howard and Sones as the returning starters. Howard is the field general and makes the calls. “He’s a smart defensive player who has a real good nose for the ball,” Fisher said of Howard. “He’s got it all. He’s compact, he’s quick. He loves contact.” Ryan Meyer is an outside linebacker who also will be used some up front. Justin Cobb can also play outside linebacker.

Secondary: Moody, who made all-conference, last year, is a safety. The remainder of the secondary features McCullough, who has had three solid seasons at safety and cornerback, Graham, who started at free safety as a freshman, and Raines. Devonshire can be utilized here as well.

The staff Head Coach, Fisher makes the calls on defense this year; a move Bounnell joked was made because most of the returnees played on that side of the ball. But Fisher is not new to coaching defense, a unit he was in charge of in his first three seasons at Zephyrhills. Last season’s 0-10 record dropped Fisher’s 11-year mark to 66-49.

Assistant Coaches: Bounnell, Troy Hochstetler, John McDougall, Matt McDermott and Shawn Mathews. Bruce Cimorelli stepped down to watch his son at Florida State.

The special teams

Cimorelli, a record-setting kicker, graduated, but Briscoe, a standout soccer player, leaves the Bulldogs solid in the kicking and punting departments. As for returnees, Fisher has plenty of options among McCullough, Moody, Graham, Devonshire or Raines.

Ex-Bulldog Gets Back Into Football Mode, St. Petersburg Times,

Each summer for four years, Brett Cimorelli has flipped the switch, going from minor-league baseball player to college football player. Today, he does so for the last time. The former Zephyrhills standout arrived in Tallahassee on Monday and could start practicing with Florida State as early as today, competing for kickoff and punting duties. “I’ve been doing it for years now,” said Cimorelli, 21, who just finished a five-month stint with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. His first three baseball seasons were only fractions of a season, starting late because of spring football drills and ending early so he could return to campus in the fall. This year, as he factored less in FSU’s kicking game, he was allowed to skip spring football and work in extended spring training with the Angels. The Seminoles allowed him to skip three weeks of preseason practice, and Cimorelli left Iowa a week before the Midwest League season ended. His urgency to get to campus was the start of school Monday. He is two semesters away from a degree in finance.  “They had no problem with it,” Cimorelli said of his college coaches and his desire to spend more time with baseball. “The field goal situation is pretty secure there, so right now, I think they want me to compete for kickoffs and maybe punt a little bit.”Cimorelli hasn’t kicked a field goal for FSU since his freshman season, when he made 6 of 9 field goals and 23 of 24 extra points.

For the past two seasons, the kicking job has belonged to Jesuit graduate Xavier Beitia, and Cimorelli’s only work last season consisted of kickoffs against Iowa State and Clemson. The shift in focus to baseball comes as he struggled in his first season above rookie ball. Cimorelli went 1-2 with a team-high 7.57 ERA, with most of his 31 appearances coming in relief. Cimorelli’s season started well despite unexpected cold temperatures that had his first games played amid snow. He took a no- hitter into the sixth in one start, pitched seven innings of two- hit shutout ball in another but found himself in the bullpen, where he struggled to find the same rhythm he had as a starter. “It just didn’t work out well for me,” said Cimorelli, who was a 20th-round pick in 2000. “My last five outings, I gave up four runs in nine innings. That’s not a great ERA, but I’d take that any day now.”

He adjusted to the higher level and more disciplined hitters but ran into control problems. He struck out 31 and walked 54, and improving his control is his first priority for the off-season.

“I have to dedicate myself more to the sport,” he said. “In past years, I’ve split myself between both. I don’t really toss the ball around during football season, but I will this year. And hopefully, I’ll go in better shape next year.” His last outing Saturday left him reason for encouragement: three up, three down, leaving the sport with a better taste in his mouth. “My dad (Zephyrhills coach Bruce Cimorelli) and I discussed getting a pitching coach this winter,” he said. “I really haven’t had any pitching instruction since high school. Mostly, you’re working with what you’ve got here. I think that could really help.”

Cadets Stand Ready for Uniform Inspection, St. Petersburg Times, by Michelle Miller, August 30, 2000

You all looked real good,” says the Zephyrhills High JROTC instructor after the inspection.

Last Wednesday marked the first uniform inspection of the school year for students in the Zephyrhills High JROTC program, and there was little doubt the cadets were feeling the heat – in more ways than one.

Never mind that it was sweltering on the outdoor tennis courts where the cadets in the sixth-period class were lined up, standing erect with eyes focused straight ahead while awaiting their review.

Typically, inspections are conducted by fellow cadets, but being that it was the first of the year, their instructor, Lt. Col. Mike Pilvinsky, pointed out who needed to get a haircut, sew on a missing button or use a little more elbow grease when polishing shoes or belt buckles.

“This puts them on notice that school has started and what’s expected out of them,” said Pilvinsky, who with Sgt. Major Terry Mears oversees 150 students in the Zephyrhills JROTC program.

In the weeks ahead, sixth-period inspections will be turned over to Cadet Master Sgt. Shaun Oudit, a Zephyrhills junior who has earned his rank by being highly involved.

“It’s basically a tear down of the cadets,” Shaun said of the inspections. “You take them down piece-by-piece.” The Wednesday inspections are worth one daily grade, Pilvinsky said. If a cadet wears white socks instead of black or forgets the belt, 10 points are knocked off. A wrinkled shirt loses another five. Failure to dress in uniform lands a zero grade. Standing before Pilvinsky was nerve-wracking for Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Nicole Gregory. “You want to do your best because you respect him so much,” Nicole said. “You don’t want to move or anything because if you do, you know that’s when he’ll be looking.” “You just try to be perfect,” said Cadet Capt. Brandon Bucknor, a senior who has already enlisted in the National Guard and hopes for a career in the military police.

Between ironing, polishing, picking off stray threads and getting the nametag and stripes pinned on just right; the cadets figure it takes about two hours to prepare for inspection. Forty-five minutes of that goes to spit-shining the boots.

When all was said and done, the cadets were looking more than a little relieved and much more at ease.

“You all looked real good,” Pilvinsky said, giving them an approving nod. “This was the first (inspection) of the year, and you guys looked great.”

Training camp

In July, 18 elite Zephyrhills High School cadets completed a challenging week at Camp Blanding, a Florida National Guard training site. Their training included rifle marksmanship, land navigation, rappelling, obstacle course and drill performance. The following cadets were selected to attend this summer camp because of their strong leadership potential and ability to work together as a team: Jessica Abraham, Anthony Caputa, Jennifer Driggers, Nicole Gregory, Karen Hogard, Michael Hogard, Daniel Huffman, Derek Martell, Tabitha Masters, Anthony McCarthy, Brandy McGlaun, Derek Meier, John Oleson, Charles Poole, Aaron Smith, Anna Strait, Kelly Williams and Robert Yonkof. Abraham, Caputa, Gregory and Meier were among the top 10 percent to be named Honor Graduates for demonstrating the highest degree of leadership, motivation and ability to work well with others as a team.

Home Room: At the Top of Their Class, Tampa Tribune, May 20, 2001

Zephyrhills High: Class Size: 250; Valedictorian: Mamie Wise, GPA: 4.46. Future Plans: Attend Duke University; pursue a degree in biology and then law school to become an attorney specializing in genetics.

Extracurricular activities: National Honor Society; President of the Florida 4-H Council, State of Florida, Pasco County Commission Youth Advisory Board; Zephyrhills Youth City Council; Future Business Leaders of American, District High School Task Force, AQHYA World Champion in Public Speaking; Teen Court.

Wise’s Words of Wisdom: “Work hard and pursue what you really love.”

Favorite Quotation: “It is a time, in short, for a new generation of leadership—new men to cope with new problems and new opportunities.”—John F. Kennedy

Salutatorian: Carolyn Young; GPA: 4.36. Future Plans: Attend Auburn University and pursue a degree in chemical engineering.  Extracurricular Activities: band member, varsity golf; President of National Honor Society; Interact Club; calculus Team.

Words of Wisdom: “Success is a combination of many daily efforts.”

Zephyrhills: Mamie Wise was selected as the Pasco County Outstanding High School Student of the Year for the County.

Mamie Wise, President of Florida 4-H Accepted Official Cabinet Resolution from Governor Bush, Zephyrhills Sun, June 2001

Mamie Wise, President of Florida 4-H accepted an official cabinet resolution declaring Florida 4-H Youth Development Day from the Florida Cabinet with members Katherine Harris, Secretary of State; Terry Rhodes, Commissioner of Agriculture; Bob Milligan, Comptroller, Bob Butterworth, Attorney General; Charlie Crist, Commissioner of Education and Governor Bush presenting the resolution to Miss Wise. Mamie Wise and Tye Reedy, both of Pasco County, also represented the Florida Foundation at the Florida Bar Association Conference in Orlando last week.

A Successful Transition Series-Girls Basketball, St. Petersburg Times, by Kevin Kelly, January 12, 2000

Mary Katherine Mason leads Zephyrhills in scoring after shining for the JV team. The unframed black and white photograph is taped on a wall behind a receptionist’s desk at the Zephyrhills Veterinary Clinic. James Mason was an Indiana teenager spotting up for a jump shot when the snapshot was taken a few decades ago. “That’s all they did was play basketball,” Mary Katherine Mason said of her father’s Hoosier-land roots. “There was nothing else they could do – work on their farms and play basketball.” Though Mason longs for the seasonal changes of the Midwest, she isn’t a farmer and isn’t interested in making veterinary medicine a career like her father has. The Zephyrhills junior does, however, play basketball and is the Bulldogs’ leading scorer (11.8 points per game) in her first varsity season. With her help, Zephyrhills has a 7-6 record after starting the season 1-4. “I was hoping that Mary Katherine would be able to produce like she has been,” Zephyrhills coach Dale Palmer said. “She averaged around 15 points per game as a JV player. That’s a whole other level. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. You just hope.” When Ernie Pittman retired as the school’s coach last June, Palmer was promoted from his position as the junior varsity coach. He inherited a team that finished 11-14 last season and returned eight letter winners, including All-Sunshine Athletic Conference guard Natalie West. “The first question in my mind was, ‘Who’s going to score?’ “Palmer said. He didn’t know for sure it would be Mason. Neither did she. “I thought moving up to varsity I wouldn’t score as many points as I did on JV,” Mason said. “I thought it was going to be a lot lower.” While she scored a season-high 19 points against Hudson on Nov. 30, perhaps her most clutch performance this season was against Central on Dec. 10.

Mason, who also is a record-setting swimmer for Zephyrhills, scored 17 points and made two free throws late to help the Bulldogs win 38- 36. “They were 6-1, and we had lost four games already. And we beat them,” she said. “We didn’t know their record. We’re glad we didn’t know because I think it would’ve kind of made us scared.” At 6- feet, Mason’s advantage is her height and strength. “She’s gotten better every year,” Palmer said. “She gets stronger. She’s getting quite a bit smarter. When she was younger, she would just react to everything, and now she participates a little bit more, not putting herself in as many bad situations.” Opposing coaches have noticed her ability to score down low and now double- and triple-team her.

“They put three girls on me at one time,” she said. “They totally pound me. I’ve got bruises all over me. My knees are terrible. “Right when I get the ball, there are like three girls right on top of me, killing me, clawing me. It’s very brutal.” For that reason and because she isn’t big enough to play center in college, Palmer has tried to convince Mason to take her game outside the key. “I always tell him, ‘Coach, down low is my home,’ ” she said.”He always wants me to shoot the little jumper at the top of the key. I’m just not used to shooting away from the basket. I’ve got to start doing that, though.” Zephyrhills plays Tarpon Springs on Friday, but Mason may get the opportunity to test her outside shot when the Bulldogs, who have gone 6-2 since Dec. 9, play host to Ridgewood at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Ridgewood features two of the top, and tallest, post defenders in Pasco County – Alayna Sherwood (6-1) and Jen Sessa (6-1). “Really she’s been doing exactly what I hoped she would do,” Palmer said. “Now we’re going to try and improve, all of us, not just Mary Katherine.”

Four Honored by National Merit Scholarship, Zephyrhills News, October 5, 2000

Four students were recognized for their accomplishments on the National Merit Scholarship Exam. Of more than 1 million students who took this exam, Eric Cortright, Brian Milligan and Carolyn Young were honored as commended students. Each of these scored in the upper 5 percent of all those who tested. Mamie Wise was acknowledged above this level as a semi-finalist who scored in the upper 1 percent of those tested.

Zephyrhills Superstar to Become an Owl, St. Petersburg Times, by Steve Lee, January 7, 2000

Dee Dee Castro verbally commits to Florida Atlantic University. Dee Dee Castro is acclaimed as one of the premier center-midfielders ever at Zephyrhills. As a collegian, she aims to make her mark as a defender. Earlier this week, Castro verbally committed to Florida Atlantic University. Her father, Phil Castro, who coaches the Zephyrhills boys soccer team, said it is a virtual certainty his daughter will sign a full scholarship to attend the Division I school in Boca Raton on Feb. 2, the official signing date. Castro is a defender for her under-18 club team, Tampa Blackwatch, and on Wednesday was moved back from center-midfield in a game against Land O’ Lakes. Zephyrhills coach Janet Heyman plans to have Castro shadow the opposition’s top strikers and said Castro’s strong leg will enable the Bulldogs to clear the zone better. While her scoring statistics surely will suffer, last season’s scoring leader in Pasco County (26 goals and 15 assists for 67 points) is not adverse to the switch. “(FAU) recruited me for sweeper,” said Castro, adding that moving to the back is “actually easy because I’m used to playing there and I dish off the ball.” Castro considered offers from eight schools in the southeast but visited FAU, Florida International University, Mississippi State and Appalachian State. FAU won out, Castro said, because she preferred to stay in Florida, approved of the school’s academics (an honor roll student, Castro plans to study pre-med) and likes coach Brian Dooley. Castro scored 45 goals in the 1997-98 season and was named the Times All-North Suncoast Girls Soccer Player of the Year with River Ridge defender Lauren Mayros. So even as a defender, Castro must be considered a scoring threat. Mandy Stephens paid Castro the ultimate compliment, saying Castro was the toughest scorer she has faced in three seasons as Land O’ Lakes’ starting goalkeeper. “Dee Dee has the hardest shot,” Stephens said. “She likes to shoot high, and that’s my one weakness.” In the Land O’ Lakes 5-3 win over Zephyrhills on Wednesday, Castro proved that point by joining the play up field and drilling a 35-yard blast that snuck under the crossbar, just above Stephens’ outstretched fingers. Making a decision before the season ends is “such a relief,” Castro said. “It’s no more stress on me. I can just go out and play now.” Castro hopes to make an immediate impact with the Owls, who last season finished 5-8-1 overall and 4-4-1 in the Trans America Conference. “I think I’m ready, and the coaches have a lot of confidence in me,” she said. “They think I’m going to be an All- American my freshman year and I hope to fulfill that.”  

Dwyer sets Example for Younger Players, St. Petersburg Times, July 27, 2000

When Courtney Dwyer plays tennis, the teenager plays each point as if it’s match point.

That same determination, focus and enthusiasm are evident when the Dade City resident faces other situations, whether it’s in the classroom, teaching others on the tennis courts or thinking about the future.

Following a successful junior year at Zephyrhills High, where Dwyer earned a 3.86 GPA and played the No. 1 singles and doubles positions for the school’s tennis team; Dwyer didn’t let much time slip by before she was on the courts helping others learn the game of tennis.

“The first week after school was out, I helped with a camp at Saint Leo’s,” said Dwyer, who turns 17 next month. “It was a two- week camp from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. It was fun, but I was beat.

“I absolutely loved teaching at the camp. I think maybe teaching is in my blood.”

Teaching runs in the family, Dwyer said, with her mother a kindergarten teacher at Woodland Elementary in Zephyrhills and several other relatives also with careers in education. In fact, it was because of her mother’s job that Dwyer was allowed to attend school in the area.

“That’s how I became involved in the Zephyrhills Tennis Association,” Dwyer said. “I was there because of attending school and started tennis in Zephyrhills in what was then the East Pasco Tennis Association.”

Dwyer first attended the tennis camp that the EPTA offered when she was 9 years old. This summer, Dwyer offered to help teach at the camp.

“Courtney actually contacted me about helping out in our camp,” said Roy Nyren, former president of the ZTA and director of this summer’s tennis camp that was held last week. “The kids just love her and she’s good with them. I think the players like having someone around that’s their age to help them. Plus, she sets an excellent role model for them.”

More than 40 juniors between the ages of 9 and 16 participated in the daily camp with Dwyer, one of five volunteer instructors along with Ruth Marzolf, Barry Roades, Dick Moffat and Nyren. Each had an assistant on court.

“I had about 14 kids on my court with a variety of skill levels,” Dwyer said. “No matter the level, we started with fundamentals and slowly worked our way to games and match play by Friday. I think I can help the young players because I can understand their frustrations in learning the game, especially when they’re trying to make changes.”

Dwyer recently experienced similar frustrations as a tennis camper at Ed Krass’ College Exposure Camp at the University of South Florida. Endurance drills, match play and preparation for college tennis were high on the camp’s agenda.

“I’ve gone to these types of camps since before ninth grade,” Dwyer said, “and each time I learn a little more. Ed Krass has coached at major universities, so he has plenty of insight. I definitely hope to combine my career in academics with college tennis.”

Dwyer, who describes herself as a self-motivated, disciplined individual who likes to keep busy, meets her singles opponents with focus and power. Keying off her opponents’ weaknesses, Dwyer attacks with a powerful forehand and relies on her mental toughness to remain focused.

‘It’s hard to get me rattled,” Dwyer said, “and I will keep in the point. My serve has improved quite a bit and is much stronger with more variation.”

Dwyer credits much of her training to Tim Crosby, head tennis coach at Saint Leo University, who has been her private coach since she began playing at the age of 9.

“Courtney is a very determined, hard-working lady,” said Crosby, who will begin his 34th year at the school this fall. “She has a great work ethic and gives everything her all-out effort.”

Crosby, who coached tennis professional Jim Courier in his early years, recalls an example of Dwyer’s determination at a high school district competition. Despite an injury to her ankle, nothing would keep Dwyer from playing her heart out for her school team, Crosby said.

“Courtney was down 5-2 in the third set with her ankle all taped and knowing her match determined the district school champion,” Crosby said. “She came back and won the match in a tiebreaker.”

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, June 28, 2000

Courtney Dwyer was named Student of the Month at ZHS. Assistant Plant Manager Ira Cook was commended as the School Related Person of the Month. Math teacher Perry Vincent was named Teacher of the Month. Students whose art work was chosen to be displayed at the “Bay Area High School Art Showcase 2000 at Ruth Eckerd Hall: Sarah Boyle, Black and White Photography; Tim Burkowski, Watercolor painting; and Graham Taylor, Watercolor and pencil. Students whose artwork was displayed at “An Artist Discovery 2000,” Erika Back, photography; Laura Ferber, photography; Kellyn Beavers, photography; Justin Langley, pencil; Patrick Patterson, colored pencil; Andrew Prillman, pencil; Tonya Holben, watercolor; Carley Wegner, watercolor; and Chelsea Schwab, mixed media. Patrick Patterson and Andrew Prillman received honorable mention awards for their work. Members of the band who participated in the State Solo and Ensemble Festival in Port Orange: Jeremiah Fife, Jessica Fife, Deanna Hasenauer, Troy Johnson, George Russell, Jessica Steve, Lindsey Steve and Carolyn Young. Top Dogs: Jerry Mitchell, Mike Hazell, Kristen Benedini, Erin Smalley, Dennis Szczepanek, Brian Milligan, Carlo Olanda, Alex Velasquez, Danielle Castro, Tim Dykins, Matthew Willey, Jessica Hall, Jesse Ribbons, Wes Johnson, Jose Cuevas, Broderick Melicio, Lizabeth Torres, Bryan Meyer, Brooks Boyette, Shana Dolly, Tonya Holben, Blake Lunsford, John McClellan, Craig Merson, Adam Petrillo, Graham Taylor, Andrea Wardell and Carley Wegner.

Top of the Class, St. Petersburg Times, June 21, 2000

ZHS JROTC Awards: Distinguished Cadet Award for Scholastic Excellence: Cadet Col. Mike Hazell. Academic Excellence Awards: Cadet Col. Mike Hazell, Cadet Capt. Ashley Tunker, Cadet Master Sgt. Selwyn Oudit, Cadet Cpl. Ana Strait. American Legion Medal for Academic Excellence: Cadet Cpl. Rene Yonkof. American Legion Medal For Military Excellence: Cadet Cpl. Daniel Huffman. AMVETS Medal and Certificate: Cadet Cpl. Jessica Abraham. Association of the U.S. Army Medal and Certificate: Cadet Cpl. Michael Hogard. Black Beret: Cadet Maj. Wes Johnson. Leadership Development: Cadet Col. Michael Hazell. Golden Rifle: Cadet Sgt. Nicole Gregory. Col. Michael J. Cockill Leadership Excellence: Cadet Maj. Jennifer Stone. Daughters of the American Revolution: Cadet Lt. Col. Diane Diebler. Disabled American Veterans for community service: Cadet Maj. Patrick Patterson. Order of the Daedalians: Cadet 1st Lt. Matthew Horton. 82nd Airborne Division: Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Anthony McCarthy. Military Order of World Wars: Cadet Sgt. 1st Class John Oleson. Military Order of the Purple Heart: Cadet 2nd Lt. Bobby Ellison. Non-commissioned Officers Association: Cadet Cpl. Charles Poole. Reserve Officers’ Association: Cadet 2nd Lt. Amanda Schultz. Senior Army Instructor Leadership Awards: Cadet Maj. Jerry Mitchell, Cadet 1st Lt. John Horton, Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Robert Yonkof, Cadet Cpl. Josh Merle. Scottish Rite of Free Masonry: Cadet Master Sgt. Tabitha Masters. Society of Descendants of Washington’s Army at Valley Forge: Cadet 1st Lt. John Horton. National Sojourners: Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Brandy McGlaun. U.S. Army Recruiting Command Medal: Cadet Capt. Hailey Bess. Veterans of Foreign Wars: Cadet Sgt. 1st Class Chris Strohle. Department of the Army Superior Cadets: Cadet Col. Mike Hazell, Cadet Capt. Jennifer Driggers, Cadet Command Sgt. Maj. Derek Meir, Cadet Cpl. Nicole Gregory.

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