Official practices began for Florida high school football teams on Monday, Aug. 2, and Mainland High School Buccaneers joined their ranks at 9:30 a.m. in the blistering heat.
Head coach Travis Roland prepares for his first fall season with the Bucs after filling former coach Scott Wilson’s extra-large-shoes. The beloved Wilson left with a reputation for making sacrifices for the betterment of his team, 103 total wins and players that went on to play for Division 1 universities with three notables who went on to play for the NFL.
Roland was undaunted when he got the call from Wilson asking him to consider being his replacement. Mainland is his alma mater, where he was part of the 2003 state championship team and Wilson’s defensive coordinator from 2012-2016.
Even while he was a coach at Flagler Palm Coast High School, he thought it was pretty cool that Wilson had the chance to coach in his alma mater, Roland said. Now, he's in that same position.
“It’s a different feeling being back as head coach,” Roland said. “I have a different perspective. It hit me again last night."
Roland, the team and his assistant coaches, along with the newly promoted athletic director Terrance Anthony, attended five events over an eight-week period. The University of Central Florida and University of South Florida camps, the state championship tournament, 7-on-7 at Spruce Creek High School and the team camp proved to be invaluable experiences for the Buccaneers and an opportunity for college coaches to observe the high school players.
Sophomores Zavier Mincey and James Randle both were “offered” by USF. Wide receiver Randle also received offers to play with UCF, the University of Miami, the University of Louisville and had multiple offers from other colleges.
“A lot of good things happening this year,” Anthony said. “This is the first practice of my 25th season at Mainland High School. I haven’t been anywhere else and I’m not going anywhere else. It’s already my life.”
Senior running back Isaiah Gordon has had multiple offers to play with various colleges, but has already committed to playing for Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Gordon has been playing football since elementary school and placed 12th in shot-put at the FHSAA Class 3A Track and Field State Championships May 7.
“I love this group of boys,” he said. “We’re a very tight knit group. You can see they want it just as much as me and that’s important on a football team. I see everybody out here as my equal. We are all Mainland.”
Initially, team captain and defensive tackle Isaiah Morrison was unhappy about Wilson’s decision to step down, but after many conversations with his former coach, said he understands his choice and continues to look up to him. Morrison appreciates what Roland brings to the table defensively and is excited that his new coach has created a platform for them to show their personalities. He is looking forward to leading his team in his final year at Mainland while attempting to break the school sack record.
“My goal is to have all the seniors graduate with a 3.0 GPA so we can all have a chance to go to college,” Morrison said. “I want my teammates to know that it’s not just about winning. It’s about staying together outside of the football season and helping each other in life.”