Friday, May 25, 2018
Sports

Independent spotlight on Zephyrhills Christian

Mike Smith started Zephyrhills Christian Academy with his wife in 1997. Throughout its existence, the school has always had football.

At first, ZCA had the flag variety before going to six-man about 10 years ago. In the past decade, the Warriors became a power, going 10-0 and finishing as the No. 1 team in the state in six-man last season.

In the spring, ZCA decided to take the next step, switching to traditional 11-man football and competing in the Florida High School Athletic Association as an independent.

"There has always been a lot of interest among the boys at the school when it comes to football," said Smith, who is the coach and pastor of the church. "We've had small growth over the years, and the goal always was to get to this level eventually where we could field high school teams in multiple sports, not just football."

ZCA's enrollment (kindergarten through 12th) is about 220 students. At the high school level, it is between 90-100. That is not a large base to draw from to field a football team. Still, the Warriors pulled out all the stops, unveiling shiny new uniforms and helmets.

The roster now has 25 players, nearly half coming via transfer from schools in Pasco County and the New Tampa area. Those additions have given the Warriors plenty of talent at the skill positions to assure themselves of at least being competitive in the Sunshine State Conference for independent teams in the area.

For example, the quarterbacks competing for the starting job, Matt Iovine (Wiregrass Ranch) and James Toner (Pasco), both transferred from other schools. The main target in the passing game is Issac Johnson, another former Pasco player.

"I was surprised to have so many kids come here, but we've always had a decent amount of kids play," Smith said. "Even when we were at six-man football, we had about 20 on the roster."

In the spring game, ZCA lost 7-6 to Lakeland Santa Fe Catholic. The Warriors have eight regular-season games this year and are trying to add two more.

"It's kind of amazing the transformation of the school and to watch it grow over the years," Smith said. "It's the same thing with the football program. Hopefully, we just keep getting bigger and better."

Bob Putnam can be reached at [email protected] Follow @BobbyHomeTeam.

Comments
Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

Rays trade closer Alex Colome, outfielder Denard Span to Mariners

ST. PETERSBURG – In January, sure.In July, absolutely.But, now?And, once again, for someone who they hope helps down the road?The Rays made a shocking trade at a surprising time of year Friday, dealing All-Star closer Alex Colome and veteran Ta...
Updated: 15 minutes ago
Rays journal: Alex Cobb on his return to Trop: ‘I got lost’

Rays journal: Alex Cobb on his return to Trop: ‘I got lost’

By Joey JohnstonTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — Orioles RHP Alex Cobb, who was 48-35 in six major-league seasons with the Rays, returned Friday night to Tropicana Field for the first time after being allowed to walk away during the offseaso...
Updated: 1 hour ago
The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Bucs’ influence inside the Vegas Golden Knights’ runaway success

The Stanley Cup final begins Monday in the unlikeliest of places: a city new to major pro sports and suddenly the center of the hockey world, Las Vegas, whose Golden Knights could become the first first-year expansion team to win a championship.And t...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Did the NFL really need a national anthem policy?

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

Rays trade Alex Colome and Denard Span to Mariners for prospects

The Rays made a major trade Friday afternoon, sending All-Star closer Alex Colome and OF Denard Span to the Mariners.The return is two minor-leaguers, RHP Andrew Moore and RHP Tommy Romero. The Rays also sent cash to the Mariners.Span, a Tampa produc...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Stand down on anthem, NFL

Stand down on anthem, NFL

Before we even get going, let me be clear about something.This is not a column making an argument about whether or not NFL players should be able to kneel in protest during the national anthem.That topic has been debated repeatedly, loudly and passio...
Updated: 3 hours ago
For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

For starters: Sergio Romo on mound tonight as Rays open series against Orioles

By JOEY JOHNSTONTimes CorrespondentST. PETERSBURG — For openers, the Rays will use RHP Sergio Romo, the 35-year-old career reliever, as tonight's starter against the Baltimore Orioles at Tropicana Field.Romo is making his third career "sta...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

Bucs’ Gerald McCoy welcomes Vita Vea to his rookie school

TAMPA — Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy has always been generous with his time, staying after practice to work with younger players. That should be a real added benefit for first-round pick Vita Vea.RELATED: More Bucs coverage"That's my M.O.'' Mc...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

The Bucs’ Mike Evans is among the NFL’s best receivers, except when it came to this

TAMPA — Only three players in NFL history have posted 1,000-yard receiving seasons in each of his first four years seasons: Randy Moss, A.J. Green and the Bucs' Mike Evans.RELATED: More Bucs coverageBut by Evans' standards, 2017 was "proba...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

Now let it sink in: 60 straight baseball wins quite the feat

FORT MYERS — It had been more than two years since Greg Olsen had to give one of those talks; the kind in which silver linings abound, while across the field, a different team celebrates winning gold.Olsen's Calvary Christian baseball team gath...
Updated: 8 hours ago