Travis Roland has been attending Mainland-Seabreeze football games since he was 4 years old. He's played in the game. He's been on both sidelines. When he was coaching at Flagler Palm Coast the past four years and couldn't watch in person, he caught up on video.
As a Mainland sophomore in 2001 he was on the field when the Bucs won in overtime. "We won at this end zone," he said pointing to the west end zone at Daytona Stadium. As a junior, with his team ranked No. 1 in the state, the Bucs got drubbed, 52-20. "We got our brains beat in," Roland said.
Roland was even an assistant coach with Seabreeze in 2010, the last time the Sandcrabs defeated the Bucs. His job was to help his team win. But his allegiance is unmovable.
"I bleed blue and gold through and through," he said, minutes after his Bucs knocked off Seabreeze 35-22 on Oct. 1 in Roland's first Mainland-Seabreeze game as the Bucs' head coach.
Of all the games between these two rivals that he's witnessed, the latest soared to the top of his list of favorites.
"For me it's at the top, because I get to watch the kids smile and be happy and that's the best part of being a coach," he said.
Mainland won its 11th in a row against Seabreeze and its previous four had all been shutouts, but that dominance did not stop the the Great American Rivalry Series from making it one of its five national featured games of the week.
The Sandcrabs quickly ended any chance for a fifth straight Bucs shutout as Toma Pouncey scored on a 4-yard run on the game's opening drive. The teams exchanged blows throughout the first half, validating the Great American Rivalry Series' presence.
"We knew it was going to be a good game between two good teams, but you can't lose the turnover margin."
PAT BROWN, Seabreeze coach
But as the Sandcrabs moved inside the 5-yard line, down 20-14 in the final minute of the first half, Mainland defensive back Kalyb Evans stripped the ball, scooped it up and sprinted 97 yards for a touchdown to put the Bucs up 28-14 and deflate the Sandcrabs' bubble.
"We had two defenders tackling him and he wasn't holding the ball high and tight," Evans said. "I just took the ball from him and I didn't look back. And I kind of regret it too, because I could have slowed down."
Seabreeze coaches argued that the play should have been whistled dead for forward progress, but there was no argument that the Sandcrabs couldn't recover from the momentum changer.
"It turned the game around," Evans said. "Once we settled down and realized we were in control, the game just fell in our hands."
"That's a senior not wanting to lose," Roland said. "Those are things Mainland High School has always done on defense."
Seabreeze coach Pat Brown said that play and other turnovers were costly, but there was still plenty of time left.
"It was a 14-point swing, but we still had 24 minutes to play," Brown said. "We knew it was going to be a good game between two good teams, but you can't lose the turnover margin."
Gordon named MVP
While Seabreeze's Blake Boda passed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns, the Sandcrabs couldn't over Isaiah Gordon's 163 yards rushing and three touchdowns.
Gordon was named the Great American Rivarly Series' game MVP. The Bucs committed to the running game after switching quarterbacks during the week with senior Jonathan Campbell starting over sophomore E'Zaiah Shine, who is more of a drop-back passer.
"Jonathan gives us a little more stability," Roland said. "E'Zaiah is still going to play. He's a talented, young player. But we've got to play to our strengths, and right now it's easier (to run the ball)."
Before the game the Great American Rivalry Series presented Seabreeze's Tommy Bunch and Mainland's Nick Antione with team Scholar-Athlete Awards.
Seabreeze (2-4) returns home Oct. 8 with its Homecoming game against Father Lopez (3-2). Mainland (2-3) plays a Thursday night game, Oct. 7, at Palm Beach Gardens Benjamin (4-1).