The Dunedin Pirates have tasted success in the past with a deep playoff run in 2012 and a Tangerine Bowl victory in 2013, but in recent years the story hasn’t been quite as sweet for the team in black and green. Entering their third season as a member of a loaded Florida Football Alliance that features six Florida Pre-Season Top 10 teams, the Pirates are simply looking to climb up a few rungs on the ladder in 2019.
“I have great confidence in the current staff and the players that we can turn this ship around,” Pirates owner Andy Villamarzo told Developmental Football USA.
Last season, the Pirates finished 2-8 with both wins coming via forfeit, but this year they’re looking to build on that number and fight their way to .500 and beyond.
“We’ve continued to put together the best product as an organization and we feel we have the players to change the culture,” Villamarzo said. “We have won games before, it’s about coming together and changing the narrative of the last couple of years. It’s been tough, but we’ve persevered and kept at it.”
Offensively, look for the Pirates to get the ball to 6-foot, 190-pound wide receiver Jacquez Pressident and 6-foot-1, 210-pound tight end Adam Hansen. The offensive line, anchored by 6-foot-2, 325-pound guard Guston Farr will look to buy some time for the Pirates to open up their playbook and get their offense in rhythm.
Defensively, 5-foot-11, 220-pound middle linebacker Jeremy Munn will look to bring the wood after getting his defense lined up. In the secondary, look for 5-foot-10, 190-pound free safety Willie Jenkins Jr. and 5-foot-9, 170-pound cornerback Chris Norman to take away key targets from opposing offenses and their passing games.
Facing tough opponents week in and week out in the FFA like the Southwest Florida Gladiators, Miami “Magic City” Bulls, Dade County Raiders, River City Commandos and the South Florida Wolverines, every team has to have a short term memory and get ready to bring their best football every Saturday.
“It makes game planning and the emphasis on practicing a lot more important compared to past years,” Villamarzo said. “You always have to be ready for the next big test and in any given week, you’re playing a tough opponent. There are really no gimmes in the FFA.”
Watch this level long enough and fans will find that some teams want the easiest path to a ring and will switch leagues year after year to try to make that happen, others simply want to be in the most competitive league in their area, and others simply just want stability.
“We’ve felt in our time with the Florida Football Alliance that the coalition of teams always involved are amongst the best organizations in the state of Florida,” Villamarzo said. “That’s not saying there aren’t other great programs around the state outside of the FFA, because there are, but jumping from league to league every other season just doesn’t create any kind of familiarity with the teams, owners and players within your league. Competition is strong and we know that, and our goal year in and year out is to compete.”
Villamarzo started up the organization – formerly known as the Anclote Pirates – in fall of 2009.
“I was a player with the Pasco Panthers organization and felt the need to start a new program in the Pasco County area, so that’s when I created the team,” Villamarzo said.
Back then, the Pirates practiced at a local church in Holiday, Florida, to prepare for their first season in the National Independent Football League. After a 3-7 finish, they joined the United Football Federation of America for Year 2 and finished 2-8. After consecutive losing seasons, Villamarzo decided it was time for the Pirates to break that trend.
“We did some heavy recruiting and re-tooling of the coaching staff and made major improvements in the 2012 campaign,” Villamarzo said.
That year, the Pirates would go 9-3, losing in the UFFOA South Conference Championship Game, 26-24, to the Broward County Cowboys. After that year, the Pirates would change their name to the Bay Area Pirates, to assume a broader regional identity. They kick-started the 2013 campaign with a 34-27 National Football Events Tangerine Bowl win over the Hudson County Bounty Hunters and reached the postseason again at 6-4 before falling to the Sarasota Millionaires.
Then, following a 3-6-1 finish in 2014, Villamarzo decided to step away from the gridiron for a few years before bringing the Pirates to the FFA in 2017 – a season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Patriots.