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Football: Keeping Crusaders on the road to the championship
By JOEY KNIGHT
Published December 5, 2007
TAMPA - With little hesitation, nearly everyone in Tampa Catholic's football program can point to the one man responsible for steering it to the state title game.
He's 62, has a wife and two Westies, and lives on a golf course in New Port Richey.
He also has carried TC nearly every mile of its state title trek. Thirteen games into the season, John "J.B." Blennerhassett still has plenty left in his tank.
"He's sort of our good-luck charm," coach Bob Henriquez said.
When TC (11-2) hits the road Saturday for the Class 2A final in Orlando, Blennerhassett will carry the Crusaders in the 57-passenger, restroom-equipped Van Hool luxury rig he drives for Clearwater-based First Priority Motor Coach.
"It's pretty funny, too, because he's like, 'You guys are undefeated with me driving,'" senior captain P.J. Briody said. "I'm like, 'You've got to keep driving us.'"
When this weekend's trip is completed, Blennerhassett will have transported the Crusaders for five of their eight road trips, which together cover 2,062 round-trip miles. The Crusaders, a superstitious lot, typically sit in the same seats.
"They enjoy the opportunity to get on the bus ... and all the stuff that goes along with traveling," Henriquez said.
The longest excursion: last week's trip to Homestead, more than 600 miles round trip, for the state semifinals against Miami Archbishop Carroll. Blennerhassett went to the coach for a nap near halftime, when TC led 28-7.
The Crusaders had to fight off a rally to preserve a 28-21 win.
"This week," Blennerhassett said, "I'm gonna watch the whole game over in Orlando.
TC's travel itinerary, with destination and round-trip mileage: