LIVE BLOG: Big Bend High School Football Media Day

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By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
July 24, 2018

Leon High School takes the desk to discuss the 2017 season during 4quartersonline's 2017 Media Day.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- With kickoff right around the corner, 4QuartersOnline is hosting their annual high school football media day in Tallahassee.

Festivities are slated to get underway at 2 p.m. Below will be a running live blog of quotes from players and coaches from each school.

Leon Lions

Leon was led by head coach Garrett Jahn and players running back Parker Wilson, linebacker Bryce Carpenter and lineman Aaron Baca.

Coach Jahn: “This is one of my favorite days of the year. I’m very appreciative of everyone who helps put on this event. Each year, I find myself saying a lot of the similar things; As a competitor, I go in wanting to win every single game. Unfortunately, we talk about that part other than the other part, which is much more important.

“My goal is for, myself and my staff, to turn these teenagers into better men. Into good men. Wins and losses are a huge part of it, but if by the end of the season, me and my staff have instilled what it takes to become better men, then I’ve done my job.

Jahn on biggest thing he learned in first year at Leon
“Just as my team did, we overcame adversity all year. I learned that I do do things right, and I do things the right way.

“How did we approach the offseason different? It has nothing to do with me; it’s these guys. Pure accountability was in effect a little bit more. I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve done from November until today.

“I lost one kid after the season. My kids didn’t give up on me or myself. They’re sticking with me, and they’re sticking with themselves and I think that says a lot about them.”

Baca on the growth of the offensive line
“We’ve been taking this offseason a lot more seriously, pushing each other harder and harder.”

Jahn on new quarterback
“He’s had some ups and downs."

“We cannot have an injury up front with our offensive line; we have to stay healthy.”

“We’ll still be very young on defense. Young, but more experience than last year.”

Rickards Raiders

Rickards was led by head coach Quintin Lewis, as well as five players.

Coach Lewis: “I know we turned out 5-5 last year. Since the last loss in the playoffs, this team has been working very hard to accomplish goals that we’ve set forth, and they’ve been doing a great job. We’ve had some changes in our team, and I think it’s for the better.”

Lewis on bouncing back after a playoff defeat
“The Monday after we lost the playoff game, the guys were in the weight room getting bigger, faster, stronger. This year is going to be a little different. We’re older and faster. This year is going to be like a breath of fresh air for us. We have 1 position that we need to be solidified for us and that’s the quarterback situation.”

Coach on QB situation
“It’s composure. You’ve got the athletes around you to make plays, but it’s about can you stay composed. As those nights get tougher and it gets to the end of the game, it’s going to be the one who’s composed who’ll win the game for you.”

Coach on new field
“I think with us, we’re fast as all outdoors, so it’ll help us speed up. What we lose in strength, we make up for in speed. It’ll help us speed wise all together.”

“Exposure. We have probably the toughest district in Florida with Godby and Wakulla. I want them to get into those types of games so they have experience for those other games. I think these guys are ready; they’re up for the challenge and I think they look forward to it. If we stay injury free, we’ll be okay.”

Players on culture shift
“I wouldn’t say there’s a shift in culture; at Rickards High School, we’re going to work hard."

Aucillia Christian Warriors

Head coach Colby Roberts and players Evan Courtney, Ryan Jackson, Evan Burks

Coach: “Our theme verse for this year is Colossians 3:23. Our goal this year is maximum effort to give their all, 110% This is one of the hardest working groups I’ve ever been around. We finished the 2016 season very inexperienced.”

Coach on the conference
“It’s all schools with similar backgrounds, it’s definitely competitive. It’s up for grabs every year, for the most part.”

Coach on returning players making things easier
“A lot of guys coming back are coming to key positions. As a coach, there’s only so much you can do in practice. It’s very nice going into the season knowing what guys can do and what position they belong in.”

Coach on incoming experience

“We’re making strides in the right direction.”

Burks and Jackson on following brothers’ footsteps
Burks: "I’m still trying to get out of being called 'Timmy' still. I think they finally realized I’m more of a runner instead of a catcher."
Jackson: "I’m trying to come out and do my best, even in my first year, and maybe break some of his records."

Taylor County Bulldogs

Head coach Tanner Jones and three players

Dacorian Bellamy on moving to QB
“It’s been good. I’m learning something new, but I’m coming along. I’ve been learning going through reads, reading defense. Everything is going pretty good.”

Coach on Bellamy moving to QB
“He’s a leader, he’s an alpha, so whatever he does, he’s going to take over. What I like about him is that he’s a runner, so if the pocket closes he can take off. It gives another dynamic to our offense.”

Coach on moving past loss to Florida High
”Like any loss, learn from it; see what they did to beat us, see what they did to win. Looking back at that game, it could have gone either way. We’ve graduated a lot of guys, but we have a great core coming back”

Coach on replacing key players
“When you have athletes graduate, you have to have players step up. It puts us a little bit behind, but we know at the end of the day you’ve go to play with what you’ve got.”

On strengths/weakness of a small school in a small town
“You know when a player leaves middle school, they’re coming to us. We’re excited, we know we have these athletes. Now, everyone else knows we have those athletes. Our middle school hasn’t lost a game in two years. As long as we do that in Taylor County, we’ll be successful for years to come.”

Wakulla War Eagles

Head coach Barry Klees and five players

On opening vs. Madison Co.
“Madison is a good team each and every year. They do a great job, and it’s a war each and every time we play them. I’ll probably come down to the last drive. We expect a good game, it’s a good rival - we played them in the spring this year - we see them all over the place.”

On playing a spring game opponent to open the season
“It was a great physical match. I don’t think they showed everything, we didn’t show everything. I think in the fall, you’ll see a lot more options for both teams.”

On Nigel Bradham and his motivating players
“He’s come back and given back to the community; he puts on his camp and donates money to the high school and the program. We’ve got several others at Florida and Florida State playing, and we’re proud of them. But it boils down to - we have the talent every year at Wakulla to make a run, and we do. We’ve got a lot of talent this year.

“Yall can expect big things out of us this year. It’s going to be fun. We’re going to spread it out and let our guys do their thing.”

Jazonte Hicks on the linebacking group
“Last year, I felt like we had a really good season. I’m going to make a lot more plays. I think we’re the strength of the defense, but we have some great DB’s.”

On what excites him this year
“It’s my senior year, and I’ve been playing with these boys for forever. I think we’re going to do big things.”

Coach on QB Jaylon Worsham
“We’ve been relying on our running game for years. We relied on our ground game until Felipe Franks came. Now, we have a true duel-threat quarterback who can run and throw. If you try to stop our passing game, he’s going to run and if you try to stop our ground game, he’s going to throw. There’s enough talent around him to where he has options.

Chiles Timberwolves

Head coach Kevin Pettis and players Sam Neely, Erick Dicky and Garrett Green

"We made a change at quarterback last year, and I was happy with how we ended up. We ended up barely out of the playoffs with the new playoff system, but we were happy with where we ended. We worked out every day between 60-90 kids. Our numbers are up, and we're excited about what we have coming back."

"We return everyone on the offensive line, which is going to be a strong point for us this year. Defensively, we return three lineman, one inside linebacker and one outside linebacker."

Garrett on taking the QB reins
"It's definitely changed my mind [having a full year under my belt]. We're feeling really good on the offensive side of the ball."

Coach on biggest question mark heading into season
"I think our biggest question mark right now is at linebacker, which is where we lost most of our guys from last year. Offensively, we changed our offense quite a bit, so we're still learning."

Maclay Mauraders

Head coach Lance Ramer and players Noah Van Syckle, Eljin Rhymes, Kennan Milford, David Durden.

"We feel really good about the turnaround, and we feel really good about our preparation; speed, strength, yoga. Wednesday, we'll end our prep for the fall camp."

Player on how yoga is going
"Interesting. We get flexibility, concentration, meditation if you want to call it that, out of it. Stretching parts of the body you never knew you could stretch."
Coach: "We saw a lot less of the nagging pulls and strains last year. I think they've learned to breathe well and know their body."

On knowing there's reliability on the offensive and defensive lines
"Any coach will tell you the game is won in the trenches. We're not the biggest of people, you don't need to play for us you just need to be a workhorse. They need to be fast and fast and fast."

On having comfort with returning quarterback
"He's cerebral, he's reliable. He's extremely coachable; he could throw four touchdowns or three interceptions and you wouldn't know the difference. He's put on maybe 15 pounds this summer; he's putting work in the weight room. I brought seven players, but I could have brought up to 30 guys, because they've all worked hard this summer. We've got the 35 best kids I could ask. As long as we stay healthy, great things could happen."

On having big numbers for a small school
"Our aspirations are always high. What changes for us is we've lost some games where we've been up in the final quarter but we lost it because guys were gassed for playing seven or eight guys both ways. Now, we might play four or five guys both ways, which is unheard of for Maclay."

Florida High Seminoles

Head coach Jarrod Hickman and four players.

"We graduated eight seniors last year off a final four team, and bringing back these guys is exciting. It's an exciting group. We've had a really good spring and summer. We're excited to get on the field. This group has a chance to make a run; we know it's going to be a tough schedule, but this group has experience and when that happens for us, we usually have a pretty good year."

Coach on experience
"How to manage the season. I think it was new for us last year, as it was new for everyone. Our guys got a taste last year of how competitive everybody was. Certainly, we hit our stride at the end of the year, which is something we pride ourselves on. I think the guys know the schedule better this year."

Coach on what he doesn't know about FHS heading into the year
"How we handle adversity. I know how we handled it last year, with disappointing losses but also with losing Cam Brown. How they rally around each other, that was last year's team. How they respond this year is going to be up to them. We talk about it, but you don't know until you go through it. I think they're going to do a great job."

Coach on preparing for 2018
"Last year in our playoff loss, the speed of the game caught us in the first quarter. That's what we're focusing on in our drills. Every level, every game, every team that you play at that level, the speed changes. We want to be sure we're not caught off guard when that change happens."

Players on preparing for the season
Jaylen Morgan: "Summer has been good. The workouts have been tough, but we're getting better."

On new, incoming players
"For us, depth is key for all positions. It allows a guy like Bryson to play defense, which he's been great at for his career but no one has seen that. When we have depth, it allows our skill guys to be fresh at the end of the game."

On schools having to fold due to rules
"I'm not worried about what teams do or don't do. There are still some other really good teams down there. For us, I think we got too far ahead of ourselves last year, but I think we're managing ourselves this year. We want to play at home. We played three straight games on the road last year, but we'd love to bring people to Tallahassee. I'm not worried about schools that recruit. I think the road is easier without a team like that."

On playing Stoneman Douglas as two schools that have gone through loss
"It's going to be emotional."
"We're going to make it special for our fans, and make it entertaining for those who watch us."

St. John Paul II Panthers

Defensive coordinator James Levise and three players

"Last year we did some great things, we won the title for independents. But we're excited about this year. We're reloading and we're getting ready to do it."

Coach on first year at JPII
"Spending time with [former head coach] Kez McCorvey made me see things differently."

On continuing JPII traditions
"We've been building this program for the last four years now. All of these guys have had a chance to get coached by some of the best coaches you can get, which is why we've been having some of the success we've been having."

Players on wanting to repeat
"We just want to come back and do it again."

Gadsden Jaguars

Head coach Joseph Striplin and players Quay Lewis, Marcus Washington and another player

"We're changing our system a little bit. We usually run a wide open system, but we want to get behind our big guys on the line and run the football a little big. Our focus on the spring was really getting our defense up to speed. This team is playing with a chip on the shoulder - when you beat the team that made the playoffs by 45 points and you don't get in...we didn't figure out those points. We've got a chip on our shoulder."

On reasoning behind changing the system
"We've got a line that is very big and some running backs that are a little bigger...that's what gotten our guys a little excited over the summer. We're ready to go."

On second season after the merger
"It worked out fine last year. It took a couple of weeks for the school to get together, but we were ahead of that with football. I don't think that's an issue anymore."

On not starting slow in 2018
"It was a slow start because we weren't putting up big numbers on offense, but we beat Suwannee and we beat Leon, two bigger schools. We just want to stay on them, maybe run some more clock or run a little more huddle. And, I think our defense has improved a lot as far as getting to the football and stopping them."

On quarterback issue
"We're going to get the next man up, and he has a line to play behind and we're going to run some other guys that'll get things going. We'll put him in position to run the offense."

Lewis and Washington on moving to a ground game
Lewis: "I feel excited about this season, I'm ready to show what we can do."
Washington: "I feel good about this year; there are no egos."

NFC Eagles

Defensive coordinator Jessie Bradwell and four players

"We're heading into a new year, and everyone knows spring and summer is the grind so we're excited to play some football. It's the same game plan - I think every coach wants to play good defense, run the ball effectively and turn the ball over. We've got some great seniors that put the team first."

On differences between 2017 team to 2018 team
"This team, I think we had one senior out of 12 miss a summer workout. I think that builds the character of a team; your seniors lead. There's steam coming out of our weight room when they're done."

Players on having a day one starting QB
"Everybody has been putting in work. I think we're going to come out and surprise some people."

Coach on what he's seen from the Eagles in the summer
"It's what the guys are doing outside of summer practice. We'll pull up and see guys putting in their own work; stuff that we're not asking them to do."

On who will fill key spots on defense
"Yeah, we lost some key guys, but we return guys who play a lot. They didn't start, but they did play a ton. We return everybody in the secondary, which is exciting for me. We're excited. We're going to take a step down in size, but we can run and we're really good at tackling. We're not going to step off the bus and impress anybody, but we've got guys who know football and we're excited."

Players on running back rotations
"I think we do a lot of good conditioning, so we'll be ready for it. I think we can produce big numbers this year, and we've got a good line."
"We've still got a good rotation going, so whoever has the hot hand is going to get the ball."
Coach: "All four of our backs play defense, but I know if someone is hot I'll have to play someone on defense more. It's cliche to say 'Get better every day,' but that's what we're trying to do."

Linclon Trojans

Head coach Quinn Gray and three players

"For us, it's been a wonderful offseason. We started our work back in January after an ending to our season that we didn't necessarily agree with. Our work started in January, and our summer has been a continuation of that. It's what we do, and it's an every day grind for us."

On result of last year helping in 2018
"Experience. It's as simple as that. We got some young guys who got some playing time last year. We also spent a lot of time in the film room in the offseason. The biggest thing we can take away is the experience they got. It's the biggest thing we'll take away from last year."

Players on helping teach younger players
"We're using summer workouts to show the younger guys the ropes; how to finish and what it means to be a Linclon Trojan."

Coach on how the team is coming together
"This is a great group of seniors we have, as well as our returning junior group. It's just been a great summer. They've worked hard, there hasn't been any huge issues with anything within the program so, for us, it's been a steady grind and we're ready for the season to start. Football can't get here quick enough."

Players on expectations for the year
"Just win, honestly. I'm not too big into the individual stuff. We had the best offense in the state last year, and I just want to keep that going. As long as we win, that's all that really matters to me."

Suwannee Bulldogs

Head coach Kyler Hall and players Jay Williams, Malik Jones and Suave White

"These guys have had a great offseason and I'm looking forward to them having a big senior year. This summer has been the best since I've been back. When I came in, this senior class was freshman, so they understand what is expected. Attendance has been really good this summer. When you have those things, good things usually happen. We've had a good spring, we practiced a change in tempo and it carried over into summer. We have a strong schedule - I believe every out of conference team we played, except for one, made the playoffs. I'm very excited about this upcoming season."

On day-to-day goals for 2018
"For us, it's the separation between showing up and showing up with a purpose. In the past we've had guys who show up on Friday and think that's good enough. Just having that mentality in the weight room and on the field. Then, on those days when you don't feel like doing it, those are the days when you have to separate yourself. When you start in spring and summer you feel good, but when your body feels tired, those are the days where you need to respond."

Players on previous years helping for this year
Jones: "We learned our first year what we need to do and what is expected of us. We need to show what the upcoming freshman, sophomores and juniors what is expected."

Coach on biggest strengths and question marks
"Biggest question is probably the offensive line. We've got three guys who have no starting experience, so it's all based on potential. We'll have that group together for the next two years.

"As far as strengths, it's experience. Our defensive line is probably our most experienced group, and that's where it all starts, in the trenches. We have two quarterbacks who both have experience at starters."

Players on showing leadership
Jones: "We kind of separate ourselves. We lead each other, we hold each other accountable."

Munroe Bobcats

Head coach Joseph Gaddy and players Michael Starling, Julian Harrison, Stephen Burdick and Max Riehnard

"I took the job in January, and this group has been tremendous to the transition in setting us to the right path."

On last year's results affecting 2018
Starling: "I think for us it's just looking at mistakes we made last season and moving on."

Coach on the expectations vs. reality of the job
"It's exactly what I thought it'd be. There's more talent here than what people thought there'd be. Our kids work hard, they don't quit, they don't fight amongst themselves, they understand who we are and that we're going to make people know it's special to be at Munroe."

Players on transition between coaches
Harrison: "The biggest has been transition from coach to coach. They have very different coaching styles."
Burdick: "It hasn't been very hard. Coach Gaddy has made his expectations clear."
Starling: "Coach has sold confidence that we've bought in to."

On what it felt to come into the team as a new coach
"From day one, they've accepted me as their coach. They've been so willing. It's so easy to coach a group that wants to be there. I think that, in the end, is what's going to be the difference."

On expectations for the season
"As a staff, we try not to put our season on wins and losses, because that leads to disappointment. We try to have wins every day; in the classroom, in the weight room. We feel if we do that, we'll have something Munroe can be proud of. We want to change the perception of Munroe. It means something to be a Bobcat, and I think that's something this group wants to do. At FCA camp, I had all the seniors give expectations for the team, and not one of them said 'wins and losses,' they talked about resiliency and having better energy. They want to build something. The seniors want to leave a lasting legacy."

Jefferson Tigers

Head coach Leroy Smith and players Josh Aikens, DeShaun Davis, Zake Price, Jaquez Hughes

Coach on seniors leadership
"They work hard and they compete, that's the biggest thing. They're going to show the other kids how to compete. They've made our practice go from a low level to the top of the chart."

Players on playing for Coach Smith
Price: "It's a blessing to have a coach understand what it's like to be a student-athlete."
Hughes: "There's not a lot of coaches like coach Smith. He's like a father figure. He's there to help us out if we need him."
Davis: "He's the best coach I've ever had. He loves us."
Aikens: "Coach Smith is a genuine dude."

Coach on having players who love and respect him
"It's a lot easier to coach them."

Expectations for 2018
"Like I said last year, I don't think there's a team coming in here saying they want to be in second place. But, realistically, with our additions and a good group of young kids, we can compete to go as far as they want to go. My philosophy is Discipline. Love. Heart. If we have all of those things, we can win and win big.

Coach on what he's learned from his players
"I've learned a lot. When you have a group of kids coming from all different backgrounds and a group of places, you learn a lot. When it's all said and done, I've learned if everyone buys in to one particular thing, something great is bound to happen. We're all growing and still trying to find our way. Us coaches have been on the high school and college way, and we're trying to lead these kids there. When these kids want something, they're going to do what they've got to do to get it. If they want it bad enough, they're going to do what they've got to do."

Godby Cougars

Assistant coach Brandon McCray and players Jordan Wiggins, Cortez Andrews, Kyler Lane, Quinten Jones and Terron Lee

Last year leading into 2018
"Last year means nothing to us except Coach Fuller said we had to take baby steps, and it's going to be a full sprint this year. We had some great leaders last year, teaching the Cougar Way."

Jones on going viral
"I was kind of showing out for the season."

Coach on day to day expectations
"Be on time for everything. If you're five minutes early, you're late. Just to set the tone; we want to set the tone for our school and our community."

Players on expectations of each other
"To get better every day. We all have the same goal, that's to get to the NFL, but we all want to win a championship. We have to be leaders for each other."

Coach on how tough the district is
"You just have to go hard every day. We have to do everything we can off the field so we can focus on football. If you're worrying about other stuff, you wont have success. Having your mind away from football can never be a thing for you."

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