Before acting too surprised about St. Petersburg's 14-10 upset of Dunedin on Thursday night, coach Todd St. Louis asks you to consider his track record, and how he helped turn around St. Petersburg Catholic and Indian Rocks Christian before taking over the Green Devils in 2000.
Four years later, he's doing the same thing at St. Petersburg, which is 2-1 for the first time since 1996 and thinking playoffs.
"It takes a little while," said St. Louis, adding that when he got the Green Devil job he immediately began targeting 2004 as a potentially big season.
Against Dunedin, the Green Devils defense bent, but didn't break. It forced crucial turnovers at critical junctions as Ferrell McGee had two interceptions and Donald Bowens another. Middle linebackers Cody Montgomery and Damian Roudebush "were all over the place," said St. Louis, shoring up a position that has been a weakness the past few years.
With quarterback Jared Paletti engineering just enough offense, St. Petersburg reversed last year's embarrassing 52-3 loss to Dunedin.
"At every school, I seem to pull off one of these or two of these," said St. Louis, whose team was 2-8 last year but beat Northeast.
"The biggest thing about this win shows us we can play football with just about anyone in the county. This was more of a motivational win than anything. That's the biggest thing, especially with high school kids."
St. Louis has been preaching to his players that this could be the year the Green Devils rise out of the Pinellas cellar.
Though the Green Devils have only 14 seniors, most are starters. The entire defense is back and there are enough players to have an offensive and defensive line.
St. Louis said these are the same players who have struggled to win the past two seasons, but they are stronger, faster and better and the skill positions are finally bustling with talent.
Wide receivers Bowens and McGee each had touchdown catches, the latter (and game-winner) coming with just under two minutes left. The running game has been steady though not spectacular, and Paletti is one of the county's top passers.
Now all the Green Devils, who don't play again until Friday, have to do it prove to the rest of the county that the win was no fluke.
"The kids, they were ecstatic because Dunedin is ranked No. 1 in the county," St. Louis said. "I knew they could play and I saw the intensity. They just needed a couple of wins to give them the boost."