TAMPA — Before Jesuit High School’s district final soccer game against Bradenton Southeast, first-year coach Eric Sims felt he needed to give his Tigers a little extra motivation. So he used school pride to do exactly that.
Jesuit had won five district titles before that Jan. 24 game, one in each sport the Tigers had competed. Sims wasn’t about to let his team break the streak.
“More of the pressure on us was not being the team that didn’t win it. We knew that all the teams had won up to that point,” Sims said. “It’s something that we talked about and something that we definitely challenged them with.”
The Tigers pulled through that night, beating the Seminoles 3-0 on the way to a district championship. And there would be many more where that came from.
In the 2013-14 school year, Jesuit won 11 district titles, four region titles and a state championship in baseball, earning enough points to win this year’s Tampa Bay Times’ All-Sports Award.
The recognition takes into account the postseason performances of both girls and boys teams in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco and Hernando Counties, making the all-boys school’s victory even more of a feat.
The championships, though, didn’t come without challenges.
Sims, a Jesuit alumnus, was tapped in September to take over as head soccer coach, following in the footsteps of his former coach Bob Bauman, a man who led Jesuit to 24 district titles in 26 seasons. The Tigers began the season with a loss and a tie in their first three games, but went on to win six of the next seven on the way to a district title and region semifinal berth.
A few months later Richie Warren, a 2000 Jesuit graduate, began his eighth season as baseball coach with a team full of Division I commits. Nine Tigers were suspended for the season in March after breaking team rules, but Warren still went on to lead them to the fourth state baseball title in program history.
The common thread, athletic director Terry Rupp said, is leadership.
“We’ve got many alums that have come back and given their time, which creates some stability within the whole athletic program,” Rupp said. “If they understand what the boys are going through each and every day, it gives us a great advantage.”
The last time Jesuit had this much success athletically, Rupp said, was when the Tigers won 10 of 11 district titles three years ago, the year before lacrosse was introduced as the 12th sport at Jesuit. But that campaign didn’t yield as many region titles, he said, or a state championship.
The bar continues to be raised. And, track and field coach Andy Wood points out, that’s exactly what Tigers are taught to do.
“We’re always talking about ‘the magis’ at Jesuit. It’s Latin for more, striving for more,” Wood said. “I think that speaks volumes to the well-roundedness of our kids.”
Jesuit’s 2013-14 highlights
• Jesuit won district titles in 11 of the 12 sports in which it competes, falling only in the lacrosse district championship game.
• The Tigers won four region titles in swimming, track and field, baseball and tennis.
• The swim team won its 16th district title before going on to win a region title and finishing fifth at the Class 2A state meet.
• The tennis team won its 20th district title under coach Joe Curtis. Alex Crosby and Grantt Meredith made it to the state semifinal round in singles, while Max Azzarelli and Palmer Evans did the same in doubles.
• The wrestling team finished second at the 2A state tournament, its best finish in 20 years. Senior Austin Underwood won the state title in the heavyweight class, becoming the Tigers’ first individual champion in a decade.
• The football team finished 8-4, beating rival Tampa Catholic — a 2013 3A state semifinalist — for the 14th consecutive year.
• Track and field sent three pole vaulters — Nick Catchur, Jack Hughes and Sammi Abboud — to the state meet. Catchur finished fourth, Hughes fifth and Abboud 10th.
• Senior Jack Taylor finished fourth in the shot put and seventh in the discus at the state track and field meet.
• Baseball won its fourth state championship in program history, ending a 14-year title drought.
• Sophomore left-hander Michael Sandborn started on the mound in three playoff games leading up to the state final, giving up not a single run in the three appearances.
Points are awarded based on a team’s finish in state competition in its classification. (Only widespread area sports that are sanctioned, not recognized, by the Florida High School Athletic Association receive points.) A state championship is worth 100 points, second place 95 and so forth through 16th place, which is worth 25. When exact positioning cannot be determined, such as with state semifinal losses, points are averaged. Also, 10 points are awarded for district championships and five for district runners-up.
Tampa Prep: 787.5
Academy of the Holy Names: 595
Palm Harbor University: 572.5
Berkeley Prep: 540
East Lake: 502.5
Clearwater Central Catholic: 472.5
Land O’Lakes: 380
Nature Coast: 347.5
Indian Rocks Christian: 332.5
Tampa Catholic: 327.5
Calvary Christian: 257.5
Wiregrass Ranch: 245
Admiral Farragut: 240
Academy at the Lakes: 232.5
Seffner Christian: 230
St. Petersburg Catholic: 225
Carrollwood Day: 200
St. Petersburg: 190
Tarpon Springs: 167.5
Bayshore Christian: 145
Cambridge Christian: 125
Bishop McLaughlin: 105
Strawberry Crest: 105
Tampa Bay HEAT: 82.5
Plant City: 77.5
Dixie Hollins: 62.5
River Ridge: 62.5
East Bay: 57.5
Keswick Christian: 57.5
Brooks DeBartolo: 47.5
Pinellas Park: 47.5
Boca Ciega: 15
Northside Christian: 15
Lakeside Christian: 10
Hernando Christian: 5
Tampa Bay Tech: 5
Weeki Wachee: 5
Wesley Chapel: 5
2013: Plant; 2012: Plant; 2011: Plant; 2010: Plant; 2009: Plant; 2008: Plant; 2007: Jesuit; 2006: Jesuit; 2005: Jesuit; 2004: Seminole; 2003: Seminole; 2002: Plant; 2001: Seminole; 2000: Berkeley Prep; 1999: Jesuit; 1998: Jesuit; 1997: Clearwater Central Catholic; 1996: Lecanto; 1995: Bloomingdale; 1994: Bloomingdale; 1993: Bloomingdale; 1992: Ridgewood/Berkeley Prep; 1991: Plant; 1990: Brandon; 1989: Lakewood