By Kyle LoJacono
The Raymond B. Stewart Middle football team completed the first perfect season in program history Oct. 26 by defeating Weightman Middle 41-6 at home.
The Bulldogs (6-0) claimed the Eastside Conference championship with the win. The squad was also the co-champs last season with a 4-2 record.
“It was a pleasure to coach this team,” said Norman Scheuerman, who has coached Stewart for five years. “We had a lot of eighth graders come back from last year and it was great to have them go out as outright champions this year.”
When Scheuerman took over five years ago, the Bulldogs did not have a winning reputation.
“We had to change the whole atmosphere around here and get the kids excited and proud about their athletic program,” Scheuerman said. “They had a lot of 1-5 and 0-6 seasons because they weren’t scoring.”
Scheuerman and the coaching staff have also gotten the community excited about the team. He said administration told him the game against Weightman had the highest attendance of any home game in program history.
“Our stands have been packed all year,” Scheuerman said. “People come up to me I don’t even know and congratulate me on how the team has been doing. It’s nice to see that support from the people of Zephyrhills.”
Putting up points also is no longer a problem for Stewart. The Bulldogs averaged just less than 32 points a game while they allowed less than six.
Two of the key contributors on the offense and defense are Jaylan Pickett and Brandon Debyah.
“It was a great year,” Debyah said. “We thought we could win every game because we knew we were good. Last year we almost won every game. Our losses were really close.”
Scheuerman said the Bulldogs lost by a combined nine points in their two defeats in 2009.
“In the end, it’s just middle school football and a lot of these kids will go out and play on the high school team the next couple of years, but I’m happy the eighth graders could go out on top,” Scheuerman said. “They can always say they were part of the first perfect team here.”