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Gaynor keeps going in tough year

Central star makes the most of his senior season.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 15, 2002


BROOKSVILLE -- Tim Gaynor was in the ultimate tough spot for a senior running back. New coach. New offensive scheme. New line.

A year after rushing for 1,769 yards and 19 touchdowns, the Central standout entered his last season with uncertainty.

The final product was not as flashy statistically for Gaynor or his 3-6 team. Still, Gaynor distinguished himself on and off the field, leading the North Suncoast with 1,351 yards on 227 carries and finishing third with 14 touchdowns.

"Compared to the numbers he had when he was a junior, they're definitely down numbers," Bears coach John Wilkinson said. "But when you consider all the things going on, he really did a great job for us.

"When you think about it, he's the main reason we won three games," Wilkinson said.

Area coaches agree.

"Nothing against the guys up front," Springstead's Bill Vonada said. "You can't rush for 1,000 yards and have a bad line, but they weren't as experienced as the guys he had last year.

"But Tim used his ability to nurse them through the first few games, and it kind of all jelled. He's the complete package."

Gaynor showed that in a 26-17 win over eventual playoff team Mitchell, amassing 336 all-purpose yards (188 rushing on 28 attempts) and 3 touchdowns. He took the opening kickoff of the second half 93 yards for a TD.

It was the breakout game Gaynor had waited for after struggling with a broken bone in his hand and a sprained ankle.

"I figured we're not going to be here in high school much longer," Gaynor said. "So I figured we might as well make the best of what we got left."

His teammates knew a little effort would lead to an end-zone celebration, such as his backflip against Mitchell.

"I love blocking for Timmy," said senior fullback Steve Martin, whose block set up a 65-yard touchdown run against Mitchell. "I know if I do my job, I'm going to see (Gaynor) fire right by me."

Gaynor's tenure under Wilkinson started badly. Gaynor missed a series of required activities and was suspended from the spring game by the first-year coach.

A new dedication to offseason conditioning cleared the slate, and the way he handled early adversity impressed Wilkinson.

"Timmy has a lot of ability, but if you have people who have not been blocking in game-type situations, it's going to be tough on a running back," Wilkinson said.

"Timmy had to sometimes make his own way. At the end of the year, the line came around and his numbers went up. But it was tough for him," Wilkinson said.

Gaynor has been recruited steadily by Eastern Kentucky, which signed former Central offensive lineman Willie Winslett and Hernando defensive end Steve Cassell last spring.

-- Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to brant@sptimes.com .

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