Wiregrass Ranch has a breakout season
By Steve Lee
WESLEY CHAPEL — Before this season, the only prep football team Wiregrass Ranch had been able to beat was Sunlake — 30-26 last year and 40-20 in 2007.
With a coaching change and the first class of third-year seniors, another one-win season wouldn’t cut it.
Say goodbye to such lackluster outputs like those back-to-back 1-9 records, which followed a 2-6 inaugural season as a junior varsity squad in 2006. Now, the Bulls have something to brag about after reaching the coveted .500 mark and narrowly missing the playoffs.
“The kids came in ready this year,” Wiregrass Ranch athletic director Dave Wilson said. “You’ve got a pretty good group of kids. This is their fourth year now.”
First-year coach Jeremy Shobe replaced Ricky Thomas, who got the school’s football program started. A standout running back for Pasco and Bethune-Cookman, Thomas previously coached at his alma mater, as well as at Weightman Middle and Pasco Junior High.
Shobe, a defensive coordinator under Thomas, led the Bulls to a 5-5 season. Under Shobe’s direction, Wilson said the defense “is on the same page now.”
Wiregrass Ranch’s fortunes changed drastically in the first part of this season. A 4-1 start went a long way in helping to erase the team’s 2-18 all-time record heading into this season. If not for an upset by rebuilding Wesley Chapel, the Bulls might have reached the season’s midpoint without a loss.
“This is a good team,” Wesley Chapel coach John Castelamare said of the Bulls. “They’re going to beat other people.”
In fairness, the Bulls were without standout running back Josh Johnson (concussion) for nearly the entire game against nearby rival Wesley Chapel. Johnson was among a handful of key seniors that included Blake Burch, James Tringali and Assad Nevel.
Wiregrass Ranch wasn’t the only downtrodden progam with a turnaround season. Sunlake, which won just once in its first two years, was vastly improved. The Seahawks also set a school record with four victories.
Despite coming up just shy of a .500 season, Sunlake was in it till the end of most games and appears to be headed in the right direction.
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