CowboyUp: Gaither Rounding Up Talented Firepower

Tampa, August 13, 2019- The Cowboys tied the 2018 season knot at 7-4 and 5-2 in their Class 6A District 6 standings. The team crushed national averages in most categories, tallying an impressive 170.5 receiving yards per game, 149 rushing yards per game, 35 total TDs, a whopping 40 sacks, and racked up 17 interceptions on the season! Let’s gather some more info on why this busy squad has sky-rocketed their production and progressive victories from the man himself, looking over the whole operation as a now third-year head coach.

“We are very blessed here at Gaither to have many athletes that will make a difference for us this year. Starting with Chance Coleman (2020 LB, ATH), Jayden Mendez (2021 WR, RB), Jordan Oladokun (2021 DB, ATH) and Robert Zanders (2020 LB, ATH) will be some of our key players that touch the football. Our quarterback Tony Bartalo (2020 QB) will be one of the best in the Tampa Bay area this year,” states head coach Kirk Karsen, breaking down some key playmakers for this upcoming season.

“Our overall expectations are to compete for a state championship. Going into my third year, this is without a doubt the best team that I’ve had and we have an opportunity if we stay focused game by game and with a little luck in staying healthy to fulfill that expectation.” 

Coach Karsen emphasized to me that the overall strength and heartbeat of this unit, of course, starts with the offensive line, with many tough kids upfront. He also noted the defense will be extremely light on their feet and physical, keeping them in many games this 2019 season- no argument there.

“We have really good team chemistry right now. We have kids from many different socioeconomic classes that have bonded well together and have the same common goals of competing for a state championship. They are really starting to bond as one offensively and defensively and we are really starting to play as one unit,” says coach, speaking on what it means to be a Cowboy and what’s most special about the time spent around this program thus far.

The compassionate mentor finishes, “We know we have a tough test with Jesuit, who made the final four last year. We had a dog fight with them last year so we know every rep of practice must count. The kids seem to have embraced that. That and building off of our spring game has helped us a lot.”

Since head coach Karsen’s arrival in 2017, the boys in the navy, silver, and white have appeared in the post-season in back-to-back years, recording 14 wins and 8 losses (7-4, 17′, 7-4, 18′); fighting their way back into playoff contention for the first time since 2013 (5-6, district runner-up).

“I think building on the tradition that we have started to create here. We have set high expectations to make the playoffs every single year. After getting into the playoffs by beating a good Wiregrass Ranch team my first year and having to beat a good Tampa Bay Tech team week 10 last year to make it, we have set the tone that making the playoffs is an expectation that should be met every year. We want to be playing in meaningful games in November.”

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor