Local coaches tell us what to watch for this upcoming high school football season.
Coral Reef Barracudas
“I’m the type of coach that I’m going to keep my best guys on the field,” said Coral Reef Barracudas Head Coach Joseph Petisco. Going into his 12th year as a coach, seventh as a head coach and third at Coral Reef. “I try to stay as young as possible and all of the older guys know that.” A young style team, Coach Petisco has some talent that are not seniors.
A standout so far in camp this year is Sophomore running back Keyno Dean. Moving him up from the junior varsity squad last year for the last game of the season against Plametto, Dean tore his ACL. Just being cleared about four weeks ago, he practices in a brace but looks to be a huge contributor for this Barracudas team.
On the defensive side of things, Senior linebacker James Bunyan is one of the guys that is going to help out a lot. A former safety converted to inside linebacker stands at 6’0 and 205 lbs., “he has been doing a heck of a job,” said Petisco. On the secondary, “dog” is how Petisco describes the undersized senior Dajon Clark at 5’8 and 147 lbs.,“He is undersized so people try him but he is tough.”
For the two guys that run the offense is Senior QB Andres Ruiz-Sanchez and Junior Center Matthew Gavalin. Ruiz-Sanchez is a 5’8 155 lbs. WR converted to QB and has done a great job with the transition. He looks to be the coordinator of this offense along with what Petisco describes as “my guy” is Matthew Gavilan. He is commander, coach and leader of this offense when they step in between the lines.
“One of the things we are harping in on now is the challenge. Coral Reef is a magnet school so we do not accept transfers. So the only news I am going to receive are guys leaving instead of new guys coming in. But I’ve always been the type of guy that’s up for the challenge.”
“I tell these guys the deck is stacked against you, the guys that are here is because they want to be here. We are trying to preach to have pride in our program and that’s Cuda Pride.”
Gulliver Prep. Raiders
Coach Earl Sims of the Gulliver Raiders is now going into his 14th year in the program and 13th year as head coach. Simms and his squad are looking to have another solid year after constructing a 6-3 record in 2017. Who is going to help them improve from last year? Their key players.
D’Sean Perry was the first name Sims mentioned. The 6’4 215 lb Senior at DE and TE is one of the more versatile players on this team. The University of Virginia commit is also going to try out a new position. “We’re going to play him at linebacker, that’s his projection but also that’s where we need him at,” said Coach Sims. “He’s a smart kid he’s very tough, aggressive and great acceleration.”
“Game-changer” is how Sims described Senior Sean Moore. The WR, FS, SS and QB stands at 6’2 and weighing in at 165 lbs. Along with Moore, Sims also mentioned QB Will Poses. Poses in his junior year threw for 1033 yards, 10 TD’s, 71 completions on 138 attempts and four interceptions. “He has a big arm, he’s smart and is the manager of our offense.”
Speaking on the team, Sims goes into on what he wants his boys to focus on. “We want them to exemplify what we have on paper, portray it on the field and be an example to the younger ones,” continued Sims. “If that happens, it will inspire the younger ones to do the same. It doesn’t have to be juniors or seniors it can be the whole team. Portray the performance that is expected.”
E.A.T. is the motto for Coach Michael Manasco and the Palmetto Panthers this year. Entering his fifth year as the head coach, Manasco is all about the culture change. “That is what we try and improve on everyday. Effort, attitude and toughness (E.A.T.), the three most important things each student athlete can control,” said Manasco. Returning as district champs for the first time in 18 years, the Panthers look to do the same and even more. A couple of standouts for this Panthers team you need to know about? Here you go.
Senior QB Cairiq Rackley leads the way for this offense sizing up at 6’1 and 170 lbs. In 2017 Rackley threw for 1517 yards, 104 completions out of 173 attempts, 21 passing TD’s and seven interceptions. Being very agile and elusive, Rackley can scramble out of the pocket and make something out of nothing.
Sticking with offense, sophomore running back Brashard Smith is another athlete that is ready to shine. At 5’10 and 165 lbs. and more to go, Smith is more than just a running back. He can run routes, catch the ball, return punts and can hold down a block.
Switching to defense senior FS and CB Cornelius Nunn JR. is a huge aspect to this Panthers defense. The Syracuse commit is 6’0 and 175 lbs. Not only a ball hawk, but Nunn returns kicks and is heavily involved in special teams as well.
This team has 10 players with at least one Division 1 offer. There is a lot of talent and a great potential to come out of this Panthers team. “The strength of our team is our QB and our defense.” Both are valued to this team and need to continue to run through them to be successful. Being a fairly old team with a lot of upperclassmen, the Panthers look to make a statement once again this year in their district.
Westminster Christian Warriors
Head football coach Ed Holly of Westminster Christian is very excited to get this 2018 season rolling. Entering his seventh year as a head coach and second year at Westminster, Holly has been coaching football for over 20 years. “Our young men have worked very hard to get ready for this upcoming season and can’t wait till Friday afternoon at 4 PM to get the season started,” said Holly. Having a very tough schedule ahead of them, Holly and his boys and are eager for success and his student athletes are ready for the challenge. The standout Warriors to look for this year are as follows:
Starting with defense, senior LB Tristan Roca is 6’0 188lbs and is one of the rising seniors on this team that is expected to have a great year. Covers the pass real well, chases down tackles and also got some time at the tight end position in his junior year. Looking to do the same and even more in 2018 he will be along side the next standout.
The leader of this defensive core is senior DT Lucas Alonso. At 6’2 275 lbs., Alonso can bulldoze through linemen. Displaying a great junior campaign, he can maneuver through the offensive line and go after the quarterback or the running back. He looks to take charge of this defense and rack up some serious numbers in the sack column.
On the other side of the ball, senior WR Ignacio Wadskier leads the wide receiver core. The 5’10 163 lbs. wide out can run deep routes and gain extra yards after contact. Not only on the offensive side does he produce but Wadskier is also a FS on defense. Tracking deep passes and making open field tackles is in his game and will be a big help for this Warriors team.
Next to Wadskier on offense is senior WR Nicholas Ordenes. Same height and weight as Wadskier, these two are a duo threat on both sides of the ball. Showing great signs at CB, Ordenes can deliver at WR. Nifty and quick, he is capable for chase down tackles on defense and is a valuable weapon on offense. This duo at WR and in the secondary can be effective all year for Westminster.
Coach Ed Holly focuses on many key traits about this team, but when it gets down to it he is all about effort. “We tell our guys to get one percent better everyday and that’s our motto for Warrior football.” With a tough schedule ahead of them that involves a load of talented football teams, Holly and his Warriors are in for a challenge this upcoming season.