Make us your home page
Instagram

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?

Blasphemy.

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.

Victory.

"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 jcotey@sptimes.com

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

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan: Brian Boyle will beat cancer diagnosis

    Blogs

    Ryan Callahan has been friends with Brian Boyle for a long-time, the two veterans playing together for seven years between the Rangers and the Lightning.

  2. Taylor Raddysh among first Lightning camp cuts

    Blogs

    Lightning forward prospect Taylor Raddysh was among the first cuts in camp, the team trimming its roster by six on Wednesday.

  3. Chris Archer, 25,000 Cubs fans and Tampa Bay's painful truth

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The biggest ovation inside Tropicana Field on Tuesday night was not for Cubs manager Joe Maddon, who was returning for the first time since managing the Rays.

    "W" flags fly in the stands after the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Rays Tuesday at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. A rendering of the Bucs' indoor practice facility.
  5. Clemson reunion for Bucs' Adam Humphries, Vikings' Mackensie Alexander

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver Adam Humphries will have a familiar face lining up against him Sunday when he's in the slot and the Vikings have Mackensie Alexander guarding him as their nickel defensive back.

    Bucs wide receiver Adam Humphries (10) makes a reception before being tackled by Chicago Bears defensive back Marcus Cooper (31) Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]