Gaither's Bryce Wegerle and Plant's Bobby Boswell know a lot about each other.
By SCOTT PURKS
© St. Petersburg Times, published April 9, 2001
TAMPA -- Gaither's Bryce Wegerle and Plant's Bobby Boswell have played together or against each other for as long as they can remember.
And now on the verge of graduation, they're standing together on a pedestal.
Wegerle and Boswell. Boswell and Wegerle.
Who meant more to his team? Who had the better performances?
Sure, Wegerle, the son of former Tampa Bay Rowdie Steve Wegerle and nephew of Roy Wegerle (who played in the 1998 World Cup for the United States), has grabbed more attention with his name and accolades. But this season, there was no denying Boswell either.
Boswell led Hillsborough County with 25 goals (playing in 10 fewer games than Wegerle) and helped Plant to a 13-3-1 record and a district title. And he did it after the Panthers went 2-13-1 and finished last in their district a season ago.
Boswell's performance wasn't lost on Wegerle -- and vice versa.
"Bobby is totally deserving of every award he gets after the season he had," said Wegerle, who played with Boswell on many youth club teams. "You have to look and see how he played against the best teams, and I'd have to say he played pretty well.
"He led the way in turning that Plant team around."
Boswell, in turn, complimented Wegerle.
"His talent is amazing. He has no weakness," Boswell said. "He has the size, speed, skill and desire to win. I'd love to have him on my team any day. It's an honor to be chosen with him."
Wegerle and Gaither did just about everything but win a state title, advancing to the final before losing 1-0 in penalty kicks to Orange Park after four overtimes.
It was a bittersweet ending to a season in which Wegerle, who transferred last summer from Jesuit, set a school record with 24 goals, including five in seven playoff games.
One of his most notable performances was in the regional final against Stuart Martin County, a 5-0 Gaither victory in which Wegerle scored three goals and had two assists.
Many around the state also took notice. Wegerle won the Gatorade and NSCAA Florida Player of the Year awards.
"He turned it up, and when a talent like that turns it up, it's really something to see," former Gaither coach Adrian Bush said after Gaither defeated then No. 1-ranked Miami Sunset 2-1 in the state semifinal. "He meant so much to this team, in so many ways."
All of that said, one might still look for a tiebreaker to determine one player of the year.
Well, their teams did have one battle. It came in the Western Conference final, which Gaither won 3-2.
Boswell scored both Panther goals, barely missing another, and Wegerle had an assist.
Afterward, Bush said Boswell was a "big-time player."
But did that make him better that Wegerle?
Boswell and Wegerle. Wegerle and Boswell.
This season, all things considered, it's too close to call.