Sepulvado’s impact on Shreve goes past W’s and L’s

In his 40 years on earth — most of those spent living and breathing football — Bryant Sepulvado has had many good days.

The day he made All-Conference as an outside linebacker at Belhaven University. The day he became a husband to Cathy. The day he became a father to Nolan.

But doesn’t it seem like we remember our bad days more often than our good days?

April 25, 2015. The day Bryant’s best friend, Captain Shreve head football coach Richard Lary, died of a heart attack.

“It was one of the worst days of my life.”

Tuesday, June 8, 2022. The day Bryant told his players they weren’t his players any longer.

“I broke down and cried like a three-year-old.”

After seven years as the Gators’ head coach, Sepulvado is moving to the front office. He will be an assistant principal. He will make more money. He will get to see his son play ball.

But what a seven years it’s been, filled with pain, hard work, and success.

Days after Lary’s death, Sepulvado — who was Shreve’s defensive coordinator — became interim head coach. But he wasn’t sure he wanted to apply for the permanent job.

His players talked him into it. They needed him.

And he needed them.

“For high school kids — and boys in particular — to do something of that magnitude, it still to this day gives me chills.”

Born out of that relationship is now a grown-up Class 5A high school football program. Four playoff appearances. The first 10-win season since 1983. Spending much of last season at or near the top of the state power rankings.

“Hell, we did accomplish some things.”

You sure did, Coach. You leave as the third-winningest football coach in school history. You put Shreve back on the state prep football map.

You did it the right way, and you did it a different way. You looked at the big picture. You understood that to rebuild a once-highly successful program involved more than drawing up plays.

You wanted $100,000 to turn a storage space into a weight room — $100,000 Shreve didn’t have. So, on your time, you wore out the tires on that black Chevy Silverado. You drove up and down Youree Drive, asking business owners to write a check.

“I probably spent $10,000 in gas, but it was well worth it for the kids.”

You figured the fund-raising would take a year. Maybe longer.

You did it in six months.

You thought like an advertising consultant, tailoring your product to whom you were trying to reach. You went to the spread offense. You bought modern-looking uniforms. You supported the not-so-inexpensive purchase of new radio equipment, so the game broadcasts would sound professional. (As professional as possible, with yours truly as the play-by-play voice.)

“If you’re not targeting your audience or staying up with the times and knowing what kids like and don’t like, you’re behind the game.”

From the beginning, Coach, you were ahead of the game.

“We’re going to try and do everything at a championship level,” Sepulvado told his first team. “I know we’re not a championship team at the moment, but we want to be.”

His teams won two co-district championships.

On the wall of Shreve’s locker room, there is a large mural of Richard Lary. Bryant had that made for selfish reasons.

“I get to see him every day.”

But Richard, no doubt, was also watching.

“I guarantee you, every week, he was probably the first one cheering after a win…I think he would be proud.”

And that thought makes for a good day.

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