"We've been treated like princesses all day. It's been absolutely amazing."
— Kayla Cox, East Bay High pitcher after winning a state title
The sheer joy emanating from a state championship victory envelops the players, the coaches and the entire school.
In May, East Bay High School experienced all those spoils thanks to its softball title. Principal Sharon Morris spoke glowingly about how much the victory over Niceville for the Class 5A title touched the students and teachers.
"When it gets to be the middle of May in a large high school, the students are stressed," Morris said. "The seniors are ready to finish, the other students are worried about exams. This gave them an a-ha moment.
"It sets the tone for your high school whenever you have success in any extracurricular activity."
Brandon High knows all about that sensation thanks to its exploits in wrestling. The Eagles won their 10th consecutive team championship at the state wrestling finals in February.
Individually, Joe Cozart, son of legendary coach Russ Cozart, Rossi Bruno, Kevin Norstrem, Tyler Liberatore, Clark Glass and Henry Chirino won state titles for the storied program.
Durant's T.J. Davis, Tampa Bay Christian's James Flint and Tampa Prep's Wes Jarrell rounded out the local state title winners.
Overall, the area produced a number of quality athletes in all sports.
Ernest Hooper, Times staff writer