With four wins two seasons ago and five victories last year, Gulf Coast is poised for its first winning record under coach Frank Tudryn, who led a powerhouse Massachusetts program for more than a quarter-century before taking the Sharks’ job in 2000.
Gulf Coast won three games in his first season, none in his second. The Sharks captured their first .500 record under Tudryn by walloping Estero 54-0 in the final game last year. He said the team is ready for the next step.
“I believe it and I think, more importantly, the kids believe it,” he said. “Each year we’ve gotten better in our attitude and that’s resulted in wins.
“We’re not going to outrun too many people. But we’re going to out-discipline, out-execute, out-tough and out-condition them. Those things are our edge, and that’s what we’ve been emphasizing.”
Something Tudryn would like to de-emphasize a bit is the Sharks’ reliance on rushing. Gulf Coast ran the ball on 77 percent of its 461 plays from scrimmage last year. Not that the ground game should be a liability. Senior Tim Alvaranga, the team’s leading rusher in 2003, returns behind a line featuring three 270-pounders: senior tackles Dan Murphy and Matt Ceto, and guard Kyle Lightner.
Tudryn intends to call more passing plays, but he’s breaking in a new quarterback, in junior Corey Swanson. Three of Gulf Coast’s quarterbacks last season have transferred, forcing Swanson to switch from halfback. “I went from three quarterbacks to none in a heartbeat,” Tudryn said. “I asked (Swanson) to get in there and he’s been looking great.”
One of Swanson’s primary targets should be senior Andino Delve, who is converting from halfback to split end. One of the team’s fastest players, and an honor student to boot, Delve suffered a dislocated finger during Gulf Coast’s first practice. The offense also should receive a boost from junior halfback Mike Jutkiewicz, who played football as a freshman but didn’t compete last season.
Tudryn’s teams at Northampton High School produced winning records and All-State quarterbacks with an emphasis on passing. Northampton regularly competed against schools with enrollments that were two or three times larger. Tudryn prefers coaching teams that can pass “because you can beat people you’re not supposed to beat.”
“You make them defend the whole field,” he said. “If they’re not defending the whole field, then you better have far superior athletes, especially for an option offense. I think this year we’ll be able to do more (passing) than we’ve done in the past couple of years.”
The defense suffered significant losses, and has to replace seven starters. But the Sharks have good leadership at linebacker with seniors Javy Paez and Tyler Clawson. Seniors Dustin Locke and Chris Hebert return to the secondary.
“I think the defense is shaping up fine,” Clawson said. “We lost a bunch of starters but guys are filling in good.”
Paez said that although the team isn’t as big or seasoned as the past two seasons, he believes the Sharks can have winning record. “We have a hard-working team,” he said, “guys with more heart and more willing to play. We’re more of a family.”