Jim Guderian looks to return the Crusaders to the prominence they once enjoyed.
By ROD GIPSON
© St. Petersburg Times, published August 30, 2001
TAMPA -- From 1994 to 1999, Tampa Catholic lost a total of just 26 games. Since then, the Crusaders have had three different coaches, weathered an alcohol scandal and dealt with transfers and suspensions.
A program that made the state playoffs for seven consecutive years (1993-1999), Tampa Catholic finished 2000 1-9 and desperately in need of a breath of fresh air.
Enter Jim Guderian.
"From the outside looking in, it looks like a lack of commitment to the program from players as well as coaches," said Guderian, a veteran coach with 20-plus years at the high school and collegiate levels.
'And it's an untested group of players. So we have to come in here and get to work and instill a work ethic in these players."
And there's plenty of work to do.
Last season, the Crusaders managed just 70 points while finishing next to last in Class 2A, District 7.
Along the way, TC was shut out four times, allowed 30 or more points six times and gave up 40 or more points four times.
"We can only go forward," Guderian said.
"We can't do anything about what has happened here recently."
That's the approach Guderian took during the summer, installing a structured workout program to not only condition players, but weed out malcontents.
"Football is about work, and you have to be willing to put in the time to be good at it," Guderian said.
"I want these kids to have a positive experience in football, but I also want them to learn punctuality, how to work hard and to have confidence in their teammates once we start playing."
OFFENSE: The Crusaders will run a multiple set offense under Guderian while trying to improve an offense that averaged less than a touchdown per game in 2000.
Senior Joey Pupello will handle the quarterback duties while the team employs a running back by committee philosophy.
Figure on the athletic Denard Span to add versatility to the offense from his split end position while junior tight end Kyle Pupello adds strength as a blocker and pass catcher.
Senior Anthony Zambito anchors the offensive line from his center position.
DEFENSE: The Pupello brothers will be among several players who will play both ways -- at least early on.
Guderian hopes to establish position players during the season but will be forced to put players on double duty in the meantime.
Kyle Pupello will line up as a speed-rushing, stand-up defensive end, play some linebacker and might see time at safety.
Joey Pupello, meanwhile, might line up at the corner opposite Span, and Guderian said as many as seven players will rotate in and out of four linebacker spots.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Jim Palevada will handle both the kicking and punting duties.
COACH: Jim Guderian, first season
ASSISTANTS: Ron Myrick, David Reaves, Manny Velasquez
COLORS: Green and white
CLASS: 2A, District 7
PLAYOFF HISTORY: 1971, 1976, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
LAST APPEARANCE: Lost to Frostproof 44-7
NOV. 2, JESUIT: TC-Jesuit always has been one of the biggest games of the year. It doesn't matter if one team is down and the other up or if both teams are suffering through poor years. This one always means more than any other game. The fact it is the last week of the season only adds to the mystique.