Clayton Varnum (center right) will represent the Bucs on the national stage as their representative for the Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award. (Photo courtesy of Sebastian Arbelaez.)

Clayton Varnum, Durant High School Cougars head coach, was selected as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach of the Year after leading his team to back-to-back district titles, a 9-3 overall record and three straight playoff berths. The Cougars have averaged at least eight wins per season since he took the job before the 2021-22 season.

The head coach received $2,000 for his program, official Buccaneers swag, a personal tour of One Buc Place and two tickets to Super Bowl LVIII.

“I was honestly shocked,” said Varnum. “What a great honor to represent Durant on such a big stage. I’m grateful for all the people in my life who made something like this possible.”

In addition, he got to meet Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles, All-Pro safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and backup quarterback Kyle Trask.

“Coach Bowles has been in the league a long time, so meeting anyone with that kind of experience is awesome,” said Varnum. “Antoine and Kyle were great as well. I felt like none of them had to do that, so taking the time to talk to me was special.”

Varnum will represent the Bucs on the national stage as their representative for the Don Shula High School Coach of the Year Award. He will be running against all of the other National Football Conference teams’ representatives for the award.

“It’s a little bit of reaffirmation that we are doing something good here at Durant,” said Varnum. “It’s hard to know how well you’re really doing when you’re the one doing the accounting. For an organization like the Bucs to recognize it just makes me confident in what we are doing. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, this award belongs to our players, coaches, school and community. Without them, things like this don’t happen.”

The former Durant High School linebacker has coached football at Durant since he graduated from the school in 2011 and became the head man in 2021. He’s been a fan of the team since he was eight years old. He is also the grandson of Newsome High School founder Joe E. Newsome. Varnum hopes to continue his great run as head coach into the next season.

“I’m proud of our program and thankful to be representing my alma mater in a positive way,” said Varnum. “Cougars forever.”

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Nick Nahas
Nick Nahas has written for the Osprey Observer since 2016. He has lived in the Valrico area since 2002 and has his bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida. He is dedicated to covering sports in Hillsborough County at every level.