NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla.- These are not your same old Gulf Buccaneers anymore.
Since Sean Eperjesi has come to the school over from Gulf Middle School, the Buccaneers’ have changed the culture from a losing one to a respectable one. Friday night, they took another step forward.
Gulf scored the opening 27 points and routed the Central Bears 52-20 at Des Little Stadium. With the victory, the Buccaneers improve to 3-2, equaling their win total from a year ago with five games remaining. The last time Gulf won three games in a row or more was back in the 2014 season, the last time the program reached the playoffs.
“It's amazing for the kids, they have worked so hard since last year,” Gulf head coach Sean Eperjesi said. “And to have that success finally show up in a tangible way is amazing.”
The Buccaneers are in chase of trying to notch the school’s first district championship ever in 100 years of existence. They made sure that the message was sent to the rest of the North Suncoast that they’ll be a contender down the stretch.
It didn’t take Gulf (3-2) long to get themselves on the board as quarterback Ethan Holewski scored on a short 4-yard run. Not too long later, running back Antonio Muniz (13 carries, 161 yards) scored on a 24-yard run to put the Buccaneers ahead 14-0. The Buccaneers went into halftime up 34-6 and never trailed in this contest.
Holwesksi had a breakout game for the Buccaneers against Central, with the junior completing 18-of-26 passes for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Most importantly, Holewski had zero interceptions on the night, completing what is easily his best passing performance of his prep career. Gulf amassed 595 yards of total offense compared to Central’s 239.
“Ethan (Holewski) played the game we have known he was capable of since day one,” Eperjesi said. “It's amazing not only for him, but for this team. They are all so selfless and wanna succeed together, it's easily one of the most incredible things I've ever been apart of.”
Central (3-2) seemed overwhelmed by Gulf’s aggressive defense from the outset, with the Buccaneers holding the Bears from scoring up until the second quarter. By then, Gulf had already gained full control of the contest.
The Bears were still able to get some solid offensive contributions on the night, including from quarterback Braden Joyner. Joyner finished with 17-of-30 passes, 239 yards and two scores. Central’s top receiver was Caden Bergantino with eight receptions for 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Gulf next week will take on Citrus (1-4), whom lost to Crystal River on Friday night 16-7, at home. It will be the Buccaneers’ second district game of the season and it comes just before an away game at Tarpon Springs and then an all important matchup with Lecanto on Oct. 14.
“Citrus is playing great football and we will continue to prepare for every game like it's the most important game of the year because it is,” Eperjesi added.
Andy Villamarzo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Andy_Villamarzo.