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. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome

    College

    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.
  2. Bucs add top executive from MLS to business side

    Blogs

    The Bucs have hired a top executive from Major League Soccer to their business operations in Atul "AK" Khosla, who has spent the last six years as chief operating officer of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

    Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.
  3. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  4. For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers

    Blogs

     

  5. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody

    Blogs

    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

    Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.