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Rams alumni eager to battle Bucs


© St. Petersburg Times, published January 24, 2001

Former Gulf and Florida football standout Jim Watson has organized two Buccaneer alumni games at Des Little Stadium.

After the third Gulf alumni exhibition is played April 6, Watson will take on a third role when Ridgewood's inaugural alumni game is played April 27 at Rams Booster Stadium.

"I'll be there scouting," Watson said.

Donnie Britt, a former Ridgewood center who has announced high school football games for Gulf, Ridgewood and River Ridge, is organizing a Ridgewood alumni game. The contest was approved Monday by Ridgewood athletic director Gary Anders and Rams football coach Wayne Parzik.

"It's pretty exciting to me," Parzik said. "I'll get a chance to see some of those kids who played years and years ago."

Some of those so-called kids include River Ridge boys basketball coach Bill Linderman, a former Rams quarterback, and Mitchell football assistant Jeff Deremer, a Ridgewood lineman who played at Florida State.

For Britt, playing tackle football for four 12-minute quarters is a chance to "relive a dream. Whoever thought you could put the pads on and walk on a high school field again?

"I'll be able to hit some of the kids I coached in PPAL (Pasco Police Athletic League youth football)."

If all goes as well as it has for Gulf's two exhibitions, Britt and Watson say a Ridgewood-Gulf game is inevitable.

"People were intrigued by a Gulf alumni game," Watson said. "Think of what it's going to be like if it's a Gulf-Ridgewood game."

"Gulf's was very successful," Britt said of last year's game that attracted about 800 fans and generated $7,800 for Gulf's athletic programs.

While Britt and Watson went head-to-head in the trenches during their days as rivals, Watson does not plan to suit up. He plans to coach if there is an alumni game between the schools.

"My playing days are over," Watson said. "But this is great, because a lot of guys out there get to rediscover their youth."

With such recent Ridgewood football players as Mario Policastri, Keith Conley and John Colella slated to play in the alumni game (Ridgewood seniors are allowed to play since their high school football days are over), it could get a bit rough. Especially in the trenches, where Watson feels the game will be won.

Britt, for one, does not anticipate things getting out of hand on the playing field.

"We'll have referees," he said. "We're not going to let each other kill each other."

An organizational meeting for former Ridgewood football players is scheduled for Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. at the school cafeteria. Candidates should bring an $85 participation fee.

"I expect to have 100 alumni," Britt said.

Anyone interested should call Britt at (727) 842-3462 or (800) 825-2831.

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