Steinbrenner High’s boys coach Chad Ebright didn’t know exactly what he should expect from his side when it began its inaugural season.
Tonight, though, the Warriors have a chance to see how far they’ve come as they face perennial power Jesuit with the No.1 seed in Class 4A-District 9 at stake. Steinbrenner can earn the No.1 seed with just a draw, but a win against the most storied program in Hillsborough County would certainly make a statement for the program.
“Our goal is to get our program mentioned with the top teams in the county,” Ebright said “The only way we can do that is to play the top teams in the county.”
The Warriors have played a limited schedule this season, with the bulk of their games coming against weak district opposition. The Warriors also lost 5-2 to Alonso, and drew with Freedom 2-2 in what where the two big non-district tests of the season, with a 2-0 win against Robinson in their last game before the holiday break putting them in position to earn the No.1 district seed.
Jesuit tied Robinson 2-2 earlier in the season, leaving it behind Steinbrenner in the 4A-9 standings, doing everything by find a game-winner in the second half of the contest. The Tigers now appear to be back to their regular form, the only loss since a 4-3 defeat to Tampa Prep on Nov.18 coming against ESPN Rise No.4 New Orleans Jesuit in the High School Classic.
As intimidating as Jesuit can be, Ebright believes the most important thing for his players to realize before the game is that they aren’t playing the Tigers’ history.
“My job is to make sure the boys realize we’re not playing the history of Jesuit, we’re playing the 2009-10 team only,” Ebright said. “We need to step onto the field understanding that that’s who we’re playing against, we’re not playing against their history. As far as the play on the field goes, we need to do the best job we can to control the pace of the game, and hopefully get Jesuit to play our game and not vice-versa.”