By: Joey Lamar | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
April 15, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Last month, The Rickards High School boys' basketball team returned to the top of the mountain when they claimed the boys Class AAAAA state title.
The 2020 season brought the Raiders their third championship under head coach Eli Bryant.
Over the years, Bryant has seen things change.
"Everybody wants to be Lebron," Bryant said, "Before Lebron everybody wanted to be Magic, and before Magic, everyone wanted to be Bird."
Bryant started out coaching the ninth-grade team Then he moved up to an assistant on varsity.
Then took over as head coach in 2005.
"Dr. Pink Hightower took a chance on me," Bryant said. "He went outside the box and hired me. I wasn't a Leon County employee. Most coaches at that time were Leon County employees."
Coach Bryant says what turned the tide for the program was the addition of assistant coaches Avery Curry and Chester Coffee.
"They do a lot of the heavy lifting," Bryant said. "We all get together on offense. We all get together on defense."
Which is why the first championship in the 2009-2010 season was not a surprise.
"Everything came together," Bryant said, "Everything we had been working towards. The ninth-grade players that came in with me were on that team just like we planned it."
The 73-year-old Bryant has no plans to retire and says he still connects with his players.
"I don't try to be 16 or 17," Bryant said "Like I tell them, I'm going to be 73-years-old every day. My values are going to stay the same every day that ends in 'Y.'"
Bryant also said his wife and daughter's help in the concession stand plays a role in the team's success.