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)

Tarpon Springs' 4A title quest ends, but pride remains


They huddled under parkas and umbrellas and outnumbered the smattering of fans sitting on the home side.

They were wet, cold and disappointed. But the fans who traveled on Friday night to witness Tarpon Springs High's football team fall to Orlando's Edgewater High, 41-20, in the third round of the state playoffs said they still are proud.

It was the team's first time advancing this deep in the playoffs since 1986 when it lost to Fort Lauderdale Dillard in the title game.

"Even though we lost, to see them come this far makes it all worth it," said Valantis Kouros, an 18-year-old senior at Tarpon Springs High. "I'm still proud of their accomplishments and I'd always take a trip to support the Spongers."

James Dorsett was there where he has been since 1970. He was sitting in the stands on the 50-yard line wearing his maroon hat with a "T" on it. But because of the persistent rain, the cap was covered with his parka's hood.

"It was kind of rough for us tonight," said Dorsett, 59, a Tarpon Springs High graduate and former football player. "You know when a sponge gets wet, it gets kind of heavy, but I'm still proud of those kids."

Gathered in the center of a rain-soaked field after the defeat, head coach George Kotis instructed the players to keep their heads up.

"Everything we did this season, we did with pride," Kotis said. "You are now part of Tarpon's football history. Now, let's show our pride with our academics.

"Our season may be over, but we can't drift away from our academics. Let's keep our reputation with our grades and show the same pride. We will walk out of here as a family."

Senior linebacker Kostas Vavlas was covered in mud and overwhelmed with emotion. The whites of his eyes were the same maroon as the number on his jersey. He fought back tears. For him and the other seniors, the lights went out Friday night on their high school football careers.

"We just wanted it so bad," Vavlas said. "We worked hard, we just wanted it so bad …"

Vavlas then walked to the edge of the field where his father and the team's other mothers and fathers awaited their sons just beyond the gridiron. He gave his dad a hug. Once the embrace was over, mud from Vavlas' uniform remained on his father's face.

"He just has so much heart," said Michael Vavlas. "He's a great kid and I'm proud of him. I'm proud of all of them."

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at or (727) 445-4174.

Tarpon Springs' 4A title quest ends, but pride remains 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 2:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. St. Petersburg's Sebastien Bourdais vows to return for IndyCar finale

    Auto racing

    INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was in one of the best race cars he'd ever had, so fast that most of his competitors thought he would win the pole for the Indianapolis 500.

    Sebastien Bourdais does physical therapy at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Indiana in Indianapolis. Bourdais broke his pelvis, hip and two ribs in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 on May 20. He plans to return home to St. Petersburg soon to continue therapy. [Associated Press]
  2. Yellow cards stall Rowdies offense in tie with St. Louis


    ST. PETERSBURG — It's not the result they wanted, but it certainly could have been worse. Neill Collins' 87th-minute header off a corner kick was the reward the Rowdies settled for Saturday night during a 1-1 draw with St. Louis before an announced 6,068 at Al Lang Stadium.

  3. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title


    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.
  4. Numerous lapses add up to frustrating Rays loss to Twins

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — While the Rays made some good defensive plays, threw a couple of big pitches when they needed to and got a few, and just a few, key hits, there were some obvious things they did wrong that led to them losing Saturday's game to the Twins 5-3:

    Rays reliever Tommy Hunter says the Twins’ tiebreaking homer came on a pitch that was “close to where I wanted it.”
  5. Rays journal: Steven Souza Jr. laughing right along after comical dive

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Souza being Souza.

    That seemed to be the best way to describe the entertaining — and comically bad — dive Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. attempted in Friday's game, and the good humor he showed in handling the fallout, including a standing ovation his next at-bat from the …