BY ANDREAS BUTLER
All across Florida, high school football teams are conducting spring football practice, including local teams. Fourteen are in Volusia County and two are in
Spring practice officially began as early as April 22, which was the earliest day the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) allowed for spring football to begin.
Spring football is a big thing. It’s another way for teams to look at players, work on fundamentals and implement strategy. Spring football also helps teams prepare for next season.
“We are really focusing on conditioning, drills and the fundamentals. We only got three weeks to get ready for a game. It’s still kind of a shock for some of the kids to get back out there,” said Shamus Dougherty, Halifax Academy’s head coach.
“It’s a great opportunity for us to get some work in and get ready for the summer. It also allows our younger guys to showcase their skills and talents.
Time of transition
Steve Allen, DeLand’s head coach, calls it a time of transition from last year’s team.
“It also gives an opportunity to guys that didn’t play as much last year. It also gives you a chance to look at how you replace your graduating class. We work on fundamentals and try to establish our identity. You kind of find out what you want to do and what you can and cannot do,” Allen reflected.
Dougherty and Allen led two of the area’s most successful programs last season.
Allen led the DeLand Bulldogs to an 8-3 mark; they made it to the first round of the Class 8A state playoffs.
Dougherty’s Halifax Knights went 6-4 and made it to the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. It was Halifax’s first playoff appearance in 11-man football.
‘A major event’
Spring football is also a time for first-year coaches to get their programs turned around or going.
Patrick Brown is taking the field with the Seabreeze Sandcrabs for the first time this spring; he was named head coach back in February. Seabreeze went 1-9 last season.
Brown emphasized, “It is extremely important. Most states can’t do spring football and don’t have it. We get 20 total practices including the spring game. During the regular season you get three. So, you get a lot more practice. It’s major event from a developmental point.”
For second-year veterans and those coaches with longer tenure, it’s much easier.
Allen admitted, “Oh yeah, it’s much easier in the spring for a second-year coach or a coach that has been with his program for a while.”
Allen took over DeLand heading into the spring of 2017.
Small private schools like Halifax have a different challenge than larger schools; they often lack bodies and have to balance time pulling kids from other sports.
Dougherty noted, “At a small school, it’s challenging. We only have so many players. Also, many of our kids play other sports that we are pulling them from at this time. For example, a lot of our kids are running and playing baseball.”
Spring football ends with a spring game where teams get to see what they have before the start of next year.
“I just want us to play together as a team and trust the process. I want to see that culture change on field. They can play the game and trust what they learned, which we want to see transfer over into summer workouts and the start of next season,” said Brown.
Allen added, “Spring football can get tedious. It gives you something to look forward to. We usually give our guys a week off afterwards before going into offseason workouts. The game just culminates your spring. You want to learn, get better and get prepared heading into the next season.”
Jachai Polite, an Ormond Beach native and University of Florida and Mainland High standout Jachai was drafted by the New York Jets in the second round of the NFL draft on April 27.
The Mainland High School girls’ track and field team won the Class 3A Region 2 meet. It’s their first-ever Regional title. The Buccaneers are sending 12 girls to the FHSAA State Track and Field Championships at the University of North Florida from May 3-4.
The Bethune-Cookman University softball team (22-28, 13-2) clinched the No. 1 seed for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament and the Southern division title. The Wildcats play in the MEAC tournament this month at the Ormond Beach Sports Complex.
The City of Daytona Beach has wrapped up its Little League baseball season. The program persisted with a team in pitching machine (ages 7-8), minors (9-10) and major divisions (1112).
SPRING FOOTBALL GAME SCHEDULE
- May 14: Ocala Christian at Warner Christian, 7 p.m.
- May 15: West Oaks Academy at Halifax, Ormond Beach Sports Complex, 7 p.m.
- May 16: Melbourne Eau Gallie at Seabreeze, Daytona Stadium, 7 p.m.
- May 16: Orlando Olympia at University at Deltona Pine Ridge, 7 p.m.
- May 16: Mainland at Jacksonville Mandarin at St. Augustine, time TBA
- May 17: Father Lopez at St. Augustine St. Joseph’s, 7 p.m.
- May 17: Jacksonville Fleming Island at Flagler Palm Coast, 7 p.m.
- May 17: Palm Coast Matanzas at Deltona, time TBA
- May 17: Taylor at Deltona Pine Ridge, 7 p.m.
- May 17: Atlantic Eastside at DeLand, time TBA
- May 17: Deltona Trinity Christian at Winter Park Trinity Prep, 7 p.m.
- May 23: Apopka Atlantic Coast at Spruce Creek, 6 p.m.