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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
By DAVID MURPHY, Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007
Because Zephyrhills coach Tom Fisher had to schedule a bye for last week's opener, Mitchell coach Scott Schmitz didn't get a chance to scout the Bulldogs to prepare for tonight's game. Nevertheless, Schmitz knows his Mustangs are in for a fight.
"I've faced Coach Fisher in a lot of games," Schmitz said. "And not a lot of them have been wins."
Wesley Chapel's John Castelamare is in a similar situation. Although his Wildcats face a Land O'Lakes team that opened with a loss to Pasco, the veteran coach knows better than to underestimate Gators coach John Benedetto.
"John's a good coach," Castelamare said. "He stays that way every year."
Longevity may breed gray hairs, but it breeds familiarity as well, and the four coaches squaring off tonight know each other better than most. Each has been a head coach in Pasco County for at least 17 years, and each has had his share of ups and downs against the others.
A look at the careers of the four "deans" of county coaching:
John Benedetto, Land O'Lakes
Years coaching in Pasco: 31
Record at school, overall: 179-145
Playoff appearances: 20 (5-15)
Record vs. Castelamare: 12-8
Record vs. Fisher: 6-9
Record vs. Schmitz: 12-3
Best season: In 2002, Land O'Lakes went 12-1, with its lone loss coming in the Class 4A region finals to Palm Bay.
Worst season: In 1990, the Gators went 1-9 and averaged just 12 points per game.
Tonight: The Gators got off to a rough start last week, losing 15-10 to Pasco. Against Wesley Chapel, they'll have to find a way to contain dual-threat quarterback Greg Jenkins. Expect the Gators to find a way to get the ball in freshman quarterback Stevie Weatherford's hands, though Eli Payne likely will start.
Tom Fisher, Zephyrhills
Years coaching in Pasco: 19
Record at school: 115-75
Playoff appearances: 10 (2-8)
Record vs. Castelamare: 8-8
Record vs. Benedetto: 9-6
Record vs. Schmitz: 12-3
Best season: In 1995, the Bulldogs went 10-0 in the regular season before losing to Bartow 21-17 in the playoffs.
Worst season: In 1992, Zephyrhills didn't win a game and scored just 62 points the entire season.
Tonight: The Bulldogs must find a way to stop Mitchell quarterback Tate Humphrey, who almost broke 100 yards in passing and rushing each last week. The Mustangs have other weapons - namely, senior wide receiver Tyrone Hendrix - but the key for Zephyrhills is stopping No. 3.
Scott Schmitz, Mitchell
Years coaching in Pasco: 17
Record at school: 30-41
Overall record: 77-91
Playoff appearances: 6 (0-6)
Record vs. Benedetto: 3-12
Record vs. Fisher: 3-12
Record vs. Castelamare: 4-8
Best season: Mitchell went 8-2 in 2004 and qualified for the playoffs, where it lost to Auburndale 34-13.
Worst season: In its first year as a varsity program in 2001, Mitchell won just one game, a 30-28 squeaker over Gulf.
Tonight: The Mustangs are riding high after a 41-13 win over Gulf in the season opener. Mitchell took advantage of a sophomore quarterback last week, intercepting Gulf's Madison Burr twice. This week, it faces another sophomore in Zephyrhills' Tyler Guy.
John Castelamare, Wesley Chapel
Years coaching in Pasco: 21
Record at school, overall: 51-33, 97-113
Playoff appearances: 4 (0-4)
Record vs. Benedetto: 8-12
Record vs. Fisher: 8-8
Record vs. Schmitz: 8-4
Best seasons: Castelamare has led the Wildcats through undefeated regular seasons twice, in 2001 and 2003.
Worst season: It didn't get much worse than the 0-10 campaign in 1996, Castelamare's last as coach at Ridgewood.
Tonight: Wesley Chapel has lost two straight to Land O'Lakes, including 23-20 in overtime last season. The Gators are rebuilding. The Wildcats feature a multi-dimensional rushing attack that had nearly 300 yards against Wiregrass last week.