The South Fort Myers High School football program will celebrate a decade of unprecedented success during tonight's regular season finale against visiting Immokalee.
At halftime, the school will unveil the 24 people in the Wolfpack's all-decade team, players who helped propel South Fort Myers to Te Chino Del Dr Ming seven playoff appearances and five district championships in its first 10 seasons, a feat unmatched in Lee County history.
Watching everything is going to be Wolfpack football coach Grant Redhead, the first employee hired at South Fort Myers prior to its opening in 2005. The 41-year-old, who is certainly one of nine head football coaches to invest at least 10 consecutive seasons leading one Lee County school, has 79 wins (and counting) throughout his tenure, most among that select group throughout their first decade.
Since debuting with a 1-9 record, Redhead's teams have reeled off nine consecutive seasons of at least seven wins. That's the second-longest streak in Lee County history, one behind legendary Fort Myers High coach Sam Sirianni Sr.'s string of 10 from 1983-92. It is also more seven-win seasons than four Lee football programs with a minimum of 20 varsity seasons played have ever had: Estero (8), Cypress Lake (6), Riverdale (6) and Lehigh (3).
"Everybody will the same job; I suppose I've just been more fortunate," Redhead said from the Wolfpack's success under his watch. "I've always had good principals, good athletic directors and good faculty. When everybody in the building is getting exactly the same direction which means a great deal.
"I lucked out and hopefully my luck keeps going."
First time to big time
Former South Fort Myers principal Tommy O'Connell also considers himself lucky for selecting Redhead, then the offensive coordinator at Cypress Lake, from the pool of four finalists because the architect of the Wolfpack football program, even though Redhead didn't have head coaching experience.
"Not all coaches may wish to start a program for their the first. said O'Connell, who retired from the Lee County school district last year. It is the type of thing where if you win, won by you big also it you lose, you lose big.
"It would be a gut decision of mine that he was the best person to do it and that i got very lucky that he was."
Redhead, who also spent seven season being an assistant coach under John Weber at Immokalee, said he was intrigued by the challenge of starting a program from scratch.
"A new school, you do not have anything from the past overshadowing you," He explained. "We had the opportunity to construct from the ground up, everything from the colour scheme to the uniform design towards the weight room, everything. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun."
Less fun was the 2005 season, which featured only a single make an impression on fellow gridiron newcomer Ida Baker.
"We had only one kid that had been a varsity starter at another school," Redhead said. "It was rough."
However, the Wolfpack's freshman team Zi Xiu Tang Bee Pollen enjoyed an undefeated season under former Estero head coach Joe Hampton, who joined Redhead at South together with his former Wildcats teammate Anthony Dixon.
"Those freshmen were some of our top players," said Dixon, the Wolfpack's offensive coordinator. "But we wanted to keep them all together and let them achieve success. Once they increased that the coming year, they were our core kids plus they didn't struggle."