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Thursday, Oct 19, 2017
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For Tech Coach, Wristband On Until They Win

The blue wristband worn by Tampa Bay Tech head coach C.C. Culpepper is all the reminder he needs of the past two seasons. Twenty games, 20 straight losses. Culpepper hasn't taken off the wristband, which reads 'Titan Pride,' since he took over as head coach during the offseason. And he won't take it off until the Titans win a game this season. He hopes he's not wearing it much longer.
'Everyone wants to end this streak,' said Culpepper, whose Titans open the season tonight at home against Bloomingdale. 'As a head coach who inherited it and was a part of it last year as a defensive coordinator, I'm ready to get rid of it.' Culpepper is confident the team - and the program - is getting better. One of the first things he did as head coach was hire former Brandon assistant Daryl Stewart as offensive coordinator, someone who shared his desire to run the football. His team is more mature. Last year, 80 percent of the Titans' starting lineup was made up of freshmen. Most are back and have 11 games of experience. He started this spring with 68 players and dressed 61 for the spring game. More importantly, the buzz on campus is becoming overwhelming. Cheerleaders are handing out pendants that say, 'Crush the Bulls.' Culpepper said that never happened last year. He also said he and his players received plenty of compliments on their attire before last Friday's Kickoff Classic - blue polos and khaki slacks - instead of the usual game jerseys. 'Friday is business,' Culpepper said. 'You should walk around school knowing this is business.' CHERRY'S CUP: As if the season opener wouldn't get teams pumped up enough, Riverview and East Bay have something extra riding on their matchup tonight. The neighboring rivals will meet for the Cherry's Cup, a trophy sponsored by Cherry's Bar and Grill awarded to the winning team each year since 2002. 'This is a big game, you know. It's like Florida-Florida State, crosstown rivals, they know us and we know them,' Riverview senior running back Jahleel Addae said. While East Bay holds a 3-2 advantage in the Cherry's Cup game, Riverview has won the past two meetings, including a 31-10 victory in 2006. INJURY UPDATE: Wharton coach David Mitchell said junior quarterback Andrew Clifford will start tonight against Freedom. Mitchell said senior Josh Powell, who normally starts for the Wildcats, has sustained a minor injury. Although Clifford started at quarterback in the preseason against Plant, Mitchell said he won't necessarily start the remainder of the season. Mitchell also said junior strong safety Jairus Jones, who did not play in the preseason game, will play tonight. Freedom might be without its starting quarterback, junior Chris Bonti, as well. Coach Marquel Blackwell said Bonti, who sustained an injury, will be a game-time decision. If Bonti can't play, Blackwell said he'll rotate backup quarterbacks Ryan Horan and Josh Grady. THE MORE THE MERRIER? When King defeated Leto 34-8 to win its last game of the 2006 season, the Lions dressed 29 players. Tonight when King takes the field against Lennard, the Lions will dress 48, an indication, King coach Earl Garcia III hopes, that his program is heading in the right direction.

Compiled by Tribune staff writers Adam Adkins, Katherine Smith and Nick Williams and correspondents Matthew Postins and Scott Purks. For more prep notes, see Keyword: Prep Sports.

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