Durant Football: Cougars Score a Perfect Season With King Shutout Win
The Durant Cougars, at home in Plant City on Nov. 9, walked off the field with a 31-0 shutout win against the King Lions. The District 7A-8 champs left the field with a 10-0 record and the school's first perfect season.
Following the post-game huddle Nov. 9, head coach Mike Gottman of the Durant High School Cougars took a moment to reflect on the shutout win that propels his team into the record books.
"With four minutes left to go in the game I thought, 'We did it,' " Gottman said. "We're going to win this football game."
In his 10th year as head coach, Gottman's team went 10-0, capped with the team's fourth shutout victory of the season, a 31-0 win over the King High School Lions.
- Game coverage at TBO.com
"It's hard to explain," Gottman said, about what he was feeling in the aftermath of the school's record-breaking triumph. "It's something that we've never done before, something I've never done as a coach. It's unbelievable. It's unbelievable."
The game was played at home, at the stadium named for the school's charter principal, Ron Frost, while the school's current principal, Pamela Bowden, was absent to see her son, Chip, who played for Gottman from 2002 to 2005, deploy for Afghanistan, as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.
Gottman is "a great coach and he requires a lot of our players, first to be student athletes, and also to be gentlemen," Bowden said after the team's Oct. 18 homecoming game win against Newsome. "We don't get a lot of penalties, these kids are disciplined."
After each game, the team, in a line, walks by the stands and holds out their hands for a slap of acknowledgment from the fans. The team joins as a group in front of the Durant Cougar Pride Band, which plays the school's alma mater.
"I believe that your football season sets the the tone for your school," Bowden said earlier this season, "and we're having a great year."
In the stands Nov. 9, excitement built throughout the game, rising to a chorus of fans chanting, "Undefeated, undefeated, undefeated . . ." as the fourth quarter drew to a close.
"To see the excitement on the kids' faces, that's why we do it, the excitement we can get on a Friday night," Gottman said. "It's exciting, it gets your blood boiling and it's fun."
That the season would unfold into a perfect season is not something Gottman thought about each week. His worst season record at the school was 3-7 in 2005.
"I don't think you think about going undefeated, you think about, 'How do we get into the playoffs?' " Gottman said. "We had a big win against Wharton [Sept. 28, 13-12], we found a way to win against Plant City [Oct. 5, 22-7]. It was one win after another and it kept adding up." (See chart below.)
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The Cougars this season have amassed 360 points in 10 outings, averaging out to 36 points per game. Their closest game was the one-point win over Wharton. Durant this season had shutout victories against Alonso, Brandon, Chamberlain and King. The team scored 57 points in two games: against Freedom on Sept. 1 and against Riverview on Nov. 2.
In other Hillsborough County high school football action Nov. 9:
- Jefferson Dragons (6-4) defeated the Brandon Eagles (1-9), 41-0.
- Strawberry Crest Chargers (4-6) defeated the East Bay Indians (4-6), 29-14.
- Newsome Wolves (6-4) defeated the Bloomingdale Bulls (4-6), 41-7. The Wolves face Gaither, away, Nov. 16, for the first round of playoffs.
- The Armwood Hawks ended their regular season Nov. 2 (7-3 overall, 5-1 in league play). The Hawks face Largo for the first round of playoffs Nov. 16.
DURANT COUGARS 2012 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE / SCORES