Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cotey: Stevie Weatherford comes into his own

TRINITY — The long, blond locks and headband that kept his flowing mane out of his eyes, making him look 12 years old, is gone.

The mane, in fact, is gone.

And he is taller. Bigger. Smarter. Better.

Stevie Weatherford is all growed up.

It took Mitchell 36 heroic, hard-earned, gut-testing admirable plays to score twice in the fourth quarter to take a lead on the Gators.

And each time the Mustangs went ahead, it took Weatherford three plays to put them back behind.

This is how it was supposed to be, all along.

This is how we all imagined it, isn't it?

Two minutes.

69 yards to go.

A 13th straight playoff berth on the line.

No problem.

Land O'Lakes 21, Mitchell 17.

"This feels really, really good," Weatherford said. "I can't even talk right now. I'm just happy for the seniors. Winning for them was bigger than anything."

Grown-up words from a kid who left those seniors in the offseason, for Tampa Catholic, in an unfathomable move that shook the football romanticism right out of some people.

Where the Weatherford family starts — brothers Will (Class of '98), Sam ('01), Drew ('04) and Joe ('06) all starred here — and Land O'Lakes begins is anybody's guess.

But one of them leaving for greener pastures?


Right before Matt Kitchie was hired, the prodigal son returned.

"It still felt like it was my team," he said.

And it is.

"He reminds me so much of Adrian McPherson when I coached at (Bradenton) Southeast; he's special," said first-year coach Kitchie, who in a feat usually reserved for offensive linemen, ran out to the field to pick up his quarterback and carry him back to the sideline after Weatherford's first touchdown pass, a third-down 78-yard strike to Will Irwin, gave Land O'Lakes a 14-10 lead with 8:44 remaining.

The play before that, Weatherford had to scramble for a yard on a busted running play.

And the play before that, the Gators were stuffed for a loss.

"I wanted to try and establish the running game, because in the playoffs we'll need it to win," Kitchie said. "But after that, I called timeout went out there and said, 'That's enough, let's we do what we do best. It's time to chuck it.' "

So Weatherford chucked it.

When Mitchell answered, he chucked it again, first scrambling out of a certain sack and finding Alex Robinson 45 yards downfield.

Next play: 24 yards to Irwin again, 1:45 remaining, touchdown.


"This has to be my best moment ever," he said, and well, duh: he was 3-for-4 in the fourth quarter for 147 yards and two touchdowns.

"Nervous? Maybe a little," he said.

He still has that boyish smile, and he flashed it as he trotted away, right into another hug.

Stevie Weatherford is all grown up.

John C. Cotey can be reached at

Cotey: Stevie Weatherford comes into his own 11/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 11:40pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon


    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017


    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire


    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.