Inside Jerry Young's 59-year-old cranium is a comprehensive archive of the Hudson-Gulf football series. Young, whose 35-year teaching career has been spent exclusively at Gulf, has coached in or watched 33 of the 34 Cobras-Bucs games, serving as Bucs head coach in four of them (1978-81). Saturday night at Des Little Stadium, Young, currently an offensive assistant, will coach for the last time in this rivalry. "Back (in the rivalry's beginning) the coaches and everybody got along," said Young, who is retiring in June. "And today, it's more of a cutthroat thing. I hate to say that, but it is." We'll get to the cutthroat angle later in the week; today is about commemorating. In observance of Young's nearly perfect attendance in the series (he was out of town for the '95 game), he graciously offered his most memorable Cobras-Bucs contests.
The series' inaugural game. Because Hudson didn't yet have a field and Des Little Stadium was a couple of years from being built, this contest was held at New Port Richey's Sinclair Field, current site of Schwettman Education Center. With Ridgewood, River Ridge and Mitchell still years from being conceived, this contest marked west Pasco's first rivalry. "Back then, Gulfview Mall was built and I always told the kids that was the mall game," Young recalled. "If you won then you could go to the mall the next day and brag and wear your shirt."
This remains Gulf's most lopsided loss in the series, and Young can only laugh it off. The Cobras staff - including coach Wilbur Lofton, current Hudson assistant Keith Newton and current Gulf athletic director Paul Girardi - pulled some off-field trickery Young never will live down. "They had a student from here get a fake playbook and give it to me," recalled Young, then Gulf's defensive coordinator. "He said, 'This is Hudson's playbook, it's called the polecat offense.'" Young prepared for the bogus formations, one of which Hudson lined up in on its first play from scrimmage. "Then they called timeout," Young said. "And all of the sudden, I looked over there and Wilbur and Keith and Paul were all just laughing."
This was Young's last Hudson-Gulf game as Bucs coach and, after losing the previous three games to the Cobras, he didn't hold back. "It was a great game," he recalled. "I think - I know, I don't think - the first offensive play we ran a reverse halfback pass to the tight end for an 80-yard touchdown. I ran two fake punts, two double reverses."
In a riveting game rife with story lines and a postgame skirmish, the Cobras pulled away late to capture their first district title since 1979. Gulf took a 22-21 second-half lead on Alton Voss' 36-yard touchdown pass to Shawn Williamson, but Hudson responded on diminutive tailback Vince Ferlita's 45-yard scoring burst off tackle. Hudson's first-year defensive coordinator was Newton, who had been dismissed after eight years as Bucs coach the previous winter.