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GULF ASSISTANT SIDELINED AGAIN

Gulf offensive coordinator Brian Wright, who suffered a ruptured esophagus in April then overcame a series of post-operative complications to return to the sideline, was back in a hospital.

Bucs coach Jay Fulmer said Wright, 45, appeared to be having problems over the weekend with the large surgical stent implanted in his esophagus. He was at Gainesville's Shands Hospital - where he had the stent implanted in late May - on Tuesday. Fulmer was uncertain if Wright would be back for Saturday night's Class 3A, District 8 home showdown against Hudson.

From sideline to the sunset?

Mitchell's Scott Schmitz, the only football coach to start two varsity programs in Pasco County, refused Tuesday morning to confirm the latest buzz: That he has informed his players he is retiring at season's end.

But he didn't deny it.

"Well, that's something that will be discussed after the season is over," said Schmitz, 53. "Right now, this is a team situation and it's about my kids and that will be a decision I make. That's all I have to say about it."

Schmitz said he'll discuss his future after the Mustangs' Nov. 14 season finale at Sunlake. On Thursday, he earned his 75th career triumph with a 16-13 win against Ridgewood.

A 31-year prep coaching veteran, Schmitz started the program at River Ridge in 1991. Three years later, the Royal Knights were in a bowl game; four years later they were in the playoffs. Hired for a similar construction job at Mitchell in 2000, Schmitz led the first Mustangs team to a 6-2 mark against JV competition. By 2002, Mitchell was in the Class 4A playoffs.

Veteran coaches

The longest-tenured North Suncoast coaches at their current schools

1. John Benedetto, Land O'Lakes: 32nd season (192-148)

2. Tom Fisher, Zephyrhills: 20th season (122-79)

3. Bill Vonada, Springstead: 11th season (53-54)

4. John Castelamare, Wesley Chapel: Ninth season (59-38)

5. Scott Schmitz, Mitchell: Seventh season (38-48)

Number of the day

895 Passing yards amassed so far by ex-Wesley Chapel standout Greg Jenkins in his freshman season at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Jenkins (79-for-133, nine TDs, four INTs) leads his 6-2 team into a division-title showdown Thursday against Jones (7-1).

On the web: fab 50, Live scoreboards

Nature Coast moves up to No. 4 in our football rankings. Sound off on the rest of the list, and check out our live scoreboards with updates after every score on Friday, at highschool.tampabay.com.

Contact us

Izzy Gould can be reached at izzygould@gmail.com or (813) 909-4619. Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3350.

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