Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Pride on the Line in Wrestling; Clay Principal's Brother a Backer of Top Opponent

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Family Pride on the Line in Wrestling; Clay Principal's Brother a Backer of Top Opponent

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, County Line staff writer

Clay High School Principal Pete McCabe has a vested interest in this weekend's Class A state wrestling tournament in Lakeland.

Family honor is at stake.

McCabe's younger brother, Kevin, was a longtime wrestling coach for the Police Athletic League wrestling program in Boca Raton, which has sent many of its "graduates" to Cardinal Gibbons, the No. 1-ranked team. Cardinal Gibbons will be Clay's biggest obstacle in the Blue Devils' quest to bring home Clay County's first state championship.

In fact, the coaches at Gibbons were so grateful for Kevin McCabe's contributions that he was given a championship ring last year when Gibbons won the state title. He since has retired from the police department, but his rivalry with big brother Pete remains intact.

"He called me the other night to harass me," said Pete McCabe, who served as Clay's wrestling coach for 18 years. "We definitely have a steak dinner riding on this one, and I don't intend to spend a penny."

The Blue Devils are ranked No. 2 in the state, just ahead of No. 3 Hernando, which the Blue Devils dominated earlier this season in the 28-team Five Star Lee Invitational at Lee High School in Jacksonville.

Clay sends 13 wrestlers to compete in 14 weight classes, compared with Gibbons' eight.

The numbers alone favor Clay, but McCabe is quick to point out that "one mistake could put you flat on your back. One mistake and the tournament's over."

Nonetheless, the McCabe brothers continued exchanging friendly barbs this week.

When the younger McCabe began telling him how bad Gibbons was going to beat Clay, big brother responded by saying, "Just remember, they'll have to show up to do it."

The comment was in reference to Cardinal Gibbons pulling out of a tournament earlier this season, which some say was to avoid being beaten by Clay. …

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