Gulf aiming to start turnaround this spring

NEW PORT RICHEY – There’s no tougher job that Sean Eperjesi could’ve accepted this past offseason that would’ve challenged him quite like taking over the Gulf High football program.

Eperjesi, who was previously the head coach at nearby Gulf Middle School, found success at that level. Now many are wondering if can that translate to high school.

The reception the former Robinson High graduate has received from players from around the school has been positive. After a 0-7 record in 2020, could this be a sign the program is taking a turn in the right direction this spring?

“It’s been amazing,” Eperjesi said. “To see so many of my former players around school, all grown up, participating in so many different things is incredible. And to see some of those kids, have their passion for football be reignited by what’s going on just makes you feel great about the direction the program is going.”

Eperjesi mentions seeing former players because many of the same middle school players he coached are now at Gulf High School and want to get the Buccaneers back to respectability. The program has even had transfers come to the school, which includes former Hudson running back AJ Blanton, who rushed for over 700 yards last season for the Cobras.

"Throughout our spring workouts we’ve had about 60 kids come out at one point or another," Eperjesi said. "So to have interest like that given issues the program has had in the past, has been an incredible to see. Once we get caught up with the academic side of things, and more of the interested players get eligible, the program will begin to thrive."

Another big reason Eperjesi got the head gig was his ability to touch the community and be able to receive great support all around. Known for his efforts at Gulf Middle School when they won a conference championship, fundraising for the football program has become one of Eperjesi’s main goals in rebuilding the Buccaneers and he said that the community support has been amazing since taking on the job at Gulf.

"I cannot stress how incredible the community has been," Eperjesi said. "We were looking for 10 business for our discount card and got over 20. We also were able to raise $25,000 in sponsorships already that has helped us replace a lot of our major equipment needs.”

“For example, Scott McPherson and Ian Thomas from McPherson and Thomas personal injury attorneys purchased 55 brand new helmets ($15,000 worth), all either Riddell Speed Flexes or Schutt F7's, which are a much safer helmet for our kids then what we have had in the past. It’s been a very humbling experience to see how much this community cares about this school, program, and most importantly these kids."

Andy Villamarzo can be reached at andyvillamarzo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.