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Pirates' Pepito gets scholarship offer

It's not every day that a high school kicker is offered a college scholarship.

But for Crystal River's Matt Pepito, it came in the form of a belated-holiday present.

After returning home from a Colorado ski vacation, Pepito and his family had a surprise on the family's voice mail. It was a message from Missouri Valley College head coach Paul Troth, who had called before Christmas.

"What is it going to take for you to come play football with us?" Troth said. "We want you to come kick for us."

Pepito's eyes lite up as his excitement began to echo the house.

"It is kind of unusual for a kicker to get a scholarship," said his father, Tas, a Crystal River teacher and Lecanto swim coach. "He is just relieved that someone is talking to him as a kicker."

Pepito, a senior, was the do-everything athlete for the Pirates (2-8), filling in at quarterback, running back, receiver, safety, punter, kick and punt returner and anywhere else they needed him.

Tas said his son has not accepted the scholarship but that the family will visit Missouri Valley, an NAIA school, on Jan. 28 to discuss with Troth the terms of his offer.

According to Pepito's dad, Troth said he might start Matt as a freshman if he can "do everything he did on the game and practice film tapes they sent."

_ Dawn Reiss can be reached at (352) 564-3628 or