Durant High School's head football coach, Mike Gottman, had nothing but praise for his team last night, after the Cougars remained undefeated with their 38-28 win against the Newsome Wolves at the Ron Frost Stadium in Plant City.
"Celebrate it," he told his players after their key Class 7A-District 8 win, in a post-game huddle on Durant's home turf. "And come back to school safe and ready to work, to work as a team."
Gottman also behooved his team to "stay humble," which he emphasized in a post-game interview is his personal attitude as well.
"Every week I just want to put together a good plan we can execute, and go out and win a game," he said, adding that he works to keep the future in check and not get too caught up in the records and the numbers that come to bear as a team, like his, advances through an undefeated season.
"I try to keep them focused on the challenge at hand," Gottman said.
That challenge is to stay laser-focused on the details as his team advances through the late stages of a 7-0 season, with two district games left to play on the road, against East Bay on Oct. 26 and against Riverview on Nov. 2. The Cougars' final game of the regular season is Nov. 9 against King.
The Cougars this season have amassed 206 points, averaging out to roughly 35 points a game.
This is Gottman's 10th year at Durant. Principal Pam Bowden said her son, Chip, played for Gottman from 2002 to 2005 and is now a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.
"He's a great coach and he requires a lot of our players, first to be student athletes, and also to be gentlemen," Bowden said about Gottman. "We don't get a lot of penalties, these kids are disciplined."
The lessons her son learned on the football field under Gottman's tutelage, she added, will serve him well in Afghanistan.
The football experience "prepares these kids to be leaders," she said. Her son, she added, "will work hard to bring his soldiers home."
As for life back at Durant, Bowden said the year is a good one.
"I believe that your football season sets the the tone for your school and we're having a great year," she said. "We're working hard every year."
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DURANT COUGARS 2012 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE / SCORESDate Opponent Field Score / Time Sept. 1 Freedom Freedom Win (57-7) Sept. 7 Alonso Durant Win (29-0) Sept. 21 Brandon Brandon Win (36-0) Sept. 28 Wharton Wharton Win (13-12) Oct. 5 Plant City Plant City Win (22-7) Oct. 12 Chamberlain Durant Win (49-0) Oct. 18 Newsome Durant Win (38-28)
Oct. 26 East Bay East Bay 7:30 p.m. Nov. 2 Riverview Riverview 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9 King Durant 7:30 p.m.