Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Sports

Small steps fuel Bucs

NEW PORT RICHEY — Coach Jason Messamore has felt the changes in Gulf's hallways.

When he took over the program in March after serving as an assistant at East Lake, students were harsh toward his football team. After the Buccaneers struggled through a winless 2012 season, some asked if their team would score a touchdown.

Almost six months later, after a near win in the spring game and a respectable kickoff classic performance against Berkeley Prep, students and teachers are encouraging players to keep progressing.

"It only gets nicer the better you play," Messamore told his team after Tuesday's practice.

His Buccaneers have a chance to find that out Friday when they open the regular season against another program trying to rebuild.

Gulf has lost 12 consecutive games. Wiregrass Ranch has dropped 22 in a row and also boasts a new coach, Mike Lawrence.

"They're in the same boat as us," Messamore said.

The Bulls have tangible evidence of improvement after jamboree wins over Sunlake and Wesley Chapel and a preseason win over Mitchell, but progress has been more incremental at Gulf.

The Bucs took baby steps in the spring jamboree with an overtime loss to Weeki Wachee, scoring almost twice as many points (49) as they did in the 2012 season (29).

"My first touchdown, we were all hyped," quarterback Avery Welch said. "It was definitely disappointing to lose the game, but I think it gave the whole team confidence in themselves.

"We could have won that game."

If Gulf ends its losing streak this season, Welch will likely be a key reason, especially after the recent departures of quarterback Ke'Shaun Peters and wide receiver Andre Wilson.

Welch, a powerful junior, accounted for three touchdowns and rushed for more than 200 yards in the jamboree. He ran the ball so hard during Tuesday's practice that a collision knocked loose a piece of his shoulder pads.

Welch played quarterback some as a sophomore, throwing two of Gulf's three touchdown passes, but he was more natural at running back. He emerged as the starting quarterback this fall and has refined his mechanics and touch while adding new wrinkles to his rushing attack behind an improved offensive line.

"In the last game he made a couple spin moves and stiff arms that he didn't even realize he had," Messamore said.

Gulf players and coaches said the atmosphere around the program has drastically improved since last season.

Coaches are more disciplined yet more upbeat. Players are putting in more effort and staying after practice for more repetitions. Body language didn't sag in last week's 23-7 classic loss to Berkeley Prep, even in the final minutes.

Now they're trying to take the next step: Learning how to win.

"(We) want to play," wide receiver Montavious Reed said. "We're hungry right now for this win."

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @MattHomeTeam.

Comments
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blackhawks

CHICAGO — Turns out, Andrei Vasilevskiy is all right.And, believe it or not, so is the Lightning’s penalty kill, which was the unlikely hero in Monday’s streak-snapping 2-0 win over the Blackhawks at the United Center.Vasilevskiy, 23, played like the...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Lightning angered by slash that has Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks

Lightning angered by slash that has Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks

CHICAGO — The Lightning got more bad news Monday with wing Ondrej Palat out 6-8 weeks with a lower-body injury. It’s a big blow to a struggling Tampa Bay team, which is now without its top defense­man (Victor Hedman) and now arguably its best defensi...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Bucks fire Kidd in midst of slump

MILWAUKEE — The Bucks fired coach Jason Kidd on Monday amid a midseason slide that has left the playoff hopeful in eighth place in the Eastern Conference. It was a surprising end to Kidd’s three-plus season tenure in Milwaukee, when the Bucks made th...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Mrazek strong in goal again as Red Wings blank Devils

NEWARK, N.J. — Petr Mrazek had 37 saves in posting his second straight shutout and third of the season as the Red Wings beat the slumping Devils 3-0 on Monday night. Tyler Bertuzzi, David Booth and Dylan Larkin scored for the Red Wings, who snapped a...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Tuesday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYCollege basketballArkansas at Georgia6:30 p.m.SECProvidence at Villanova6:30 p.m.FS1Kansas at Oklahoma7 p.m.ESPNWisconsin at Iowa7 p.m.ESPN2Oklahoma State at Texas Tech7 p.m.ESPNewsVanderbilt at Tennessee7 p.m.ESPNUDavidson at Dayton7 p.m.CBSSNW...
Updated: 7 hours ago

MELBOURNE, Australia — Back-to-back shockers resulted in a most unexpected Australian Open men’s quarterfinal. Six-time champion Novak Djokovic and fifth-ranked Dominic Thiem lost within a few hours Monday, leaving Hyeon Chung and Tennys Sandgren pla...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Lightning-Blackhawks

Matt Peca and Michael Bournival likely won’t be the last callups by the Lightning the next month or so. There are plenty of other deserving candidates at AHL Syracuse, with Adam Erne likely getting a shot had he not been injured. With Ondrej Palat ou...
Updated: 7 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Jan. 22

Monday’s scoreboardBoys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Clearwater 0Boca Ciega 3, Indian Rocks Christian 1Girls soccerClass 4A, District 10: Countryside 7, Clearwater 0; Dixie Hollins 2, East Lake 0Class 3A, District 10: Osceola 14, Gibbs 0...
Updated: 7 hours ago

NHL All-Star Game Skills Competition gets some changes

Skills Competition gets a new lookThe NHL switched up its format for Saturday’s All-Star Game Skills Competition (7 p.m, NBSCN). There will be six events, including the traditional hardest shot, accuracy shooting, plus a passing challenge, puck contr...
Updated: 8 hours ago

Vikes’ Shurmur to lead Giants

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was hired as the Giants head coach Monday afternoon. The Giants announced the hiring less than 24 hours after Shurmur and the Vikings were beaten by the Eagles in the NFC title game. S...
Updated: 9 hours ago