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No calling it even
The Bucs hope to rise above .500 and nab that postseason berth that just eluded them in 2005.
By MIKE CAMUNAS
Published August 25, 2006
NEW PORT RICHEY - The Buccaneers are familiar with two numbers.
The first, 76, has been around a while, since it's the number of years of Gulf football and not one playoff appearance.
The second, 10, became a heartbreaker to the Bucs, as it was the point deficit in a loss to district champion Hudson, keeping them out of the playoffs in 2005.
Coach Jay Fulmer has ignored the numbers, though he is a man of equations.
"Every year I write a formula on the board," Fulmer said. "Talent plus hard work does not equal wins.
"There are a lot of other intangibles: luck, turnovers, injuries, coaching - all kinds of stuff."
Gulf certainly has the talent variable. Senior quarterback Alton Voss, who threw and ran for more than 1,000 yards in 2005, and senior wide receiver Shawn Williamson, who had 600 receiving yards in just six games, both return. Atlanta transfer JeKhile Walton looks to contribute on defense.
"We really just weren't satisfied with a 5-5 season; it was not what we wanted," Fulmer said. "We know how important it is to this community, and we know that we can't be 10 points short.
"But I also think that (game) was forgotten the minute it was over."
"It's been a little hard to put this behind us," Williamson said. "All the work we put in last year, it was tough to forget all that. (Hudson) ruined our chance to go to the playoffs for the first time ever. Now we're gunning for Hudson."
Fulmer does feel "the path" to the playoffs "is a little bit easier in our four-team district." With the three other teams being Pasco, Zephyrhills and even Hudson, which lost 19 seniors, Fulmer says that four-team path won't be taken lightly.
"We're not overlooking our schedule at all," Fulmer said. "Any two of those four teams could go. People say Hudson is going to be down this year; I don't believe that for a second."
Despite having Voss, who orally committed to USF, Gulf also will take advantage of a strong offensive line for Voss, utilize standout receiver Marcus Neeson and put River Ridge transfer running back Joe Turnbull to good use.
All those factors, according to Williamson, are leading most in the county to predict Gulf ending the 76-year drought.
"We'll use (that pressure) to our advantage," Williamson said.
"We have all these chances here to show our potential."
But no matter the outcome of this season's equation, Fulmer knows what the sum will be: The second-year coach will be in the same boat as the Cobras were in 2005, but he also knows that does not equal losses.
"We'll lose about 18 to 19 seniors, too," Fulmer said. "But we'll be in the hunt next year, just like Hudson will be this year. Losing seniors don't mean a thing.
"(Hudson) isn't fooling me for a second. We're still the runt of the litter. We've done nothing to be picked to win everything."