When 2,000-yard passer Blake Boda announced three months ago that he was transferring to Cocoa, the Seabreeze football team was left in a lurch.
The Sandcrabs were entering the season with a quarterback group that had virtually no varsity experience. Sophomore Hayden Hayes and junior Zeli Hayworth, a transfer from Flagler Palm Coast, have shared the snaps since the preseason. But now Seabreeze appears to have found its starter.
"Hayden did some great things back there," Brown said after Hayes came off the bench to throw three second-half touchdown passes in the Sandcrabs' 38-27 loss to Bartram Trail on Sept. 2 at Daytona Stadium. "He did his reads, gave his receivers a chance, and we know we got a corps for four receivers that all can do some special things once the rock is in their hands. I would say, obviously, (Hayes) took some strides as far as putting himself ahead."
For the second week in a row, Seabreeze failed to score in the first half. Hayes, nursing an injury, was scheduled to play sparingly, if at all, but that plan changed in the second quarter after senior receiver Sam Gonzalez, a former quarterback, took some snaps under center after Seabreeze struggled to move the ball.
"(Hayden Hayes) was a little banged up from last week. So, we didn't know if we were going to have him. We talked about having him in emergency situations. But I looked at the trainer and said, 'Oh right, it's time to roll. It's an emergency."
— PAT BROWN, Seabreeze coach
"(Hayes) was a little banged up from last week," Brown said. "So, we didn't know if we were going to have him. We talked about having him in emergency situations. But I looked at the trainer and said, 'Oh right, it's time to roll. It's an emergency. So he came in and did some great things."
With Seabreeze trailing 31-0 at the half, Hayes got the 'Crabs on the scoreboard with a touchdown pass to Gonzales early in the third quarter. Hayes added a 78-yard catch-and-run to Denali Campbell with two minutes left in the game. And a pass to Campbell set up a final TD to Gonzalez with 1:07 left. Gonzalez then caught a 2-point conversion pass from Hayes for the game's final points.
"After our ex-quarterback left, we've been trying to figure out who the guy is, whether it's Zeli or Hayden, and tonight Hayden stepped up," Gonzalez said. "So let's just hope he can keep it going throughout the season. All three of those (scoring) passes to me were perfect balls where the defender can't get it. If he keeps it going, we're going to have something special."
Brown played football for Greg Schiano at Rutgers before transferring to Bethune-Cookman. Schiano took some pages from former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer's book on punt block schemes. Brown is following through and has a punt-blocking dynamo in Eli Campbell, who blocked his third punt of the season against Bartram Trail.
Eli Campbell, who had two blocked punts against Spruce Creek, blocked another late in the third quarter against Bartram that Brogan Kelly scooped up and ran for a touchdown.
"We always want to have a block skewed up, and obviously, Eli's got the most blocks in the area, probably ever," Brown said. "I know he had two his sophomore year, three last year and he's already got three this year."
With Eli Campbell a threat to block a punt, and his brother, Denali Campbell, a threat to run punts back for a score, teams almost have to pick their poison, Brown said.
"If we have an opportunity on a punt, you better believe we're going for the block," Brown said. "And if you're protecting (the punter), you better believe Denali's going to have a chance to run it back. So, you have to pick which Campbell you want to give it up to."
ANOTHER SLUGGISH START
Brown blamed himself for the offensive struggles in the first half.
"I just have to do a better job with play calling," said Brown, who is taking over for former offensive coordinator Matt Johnson, who is now running the offense at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland.
The Sandcrabs (0-2) got some early chances, which they weren't able to capitalize. Micah Karr intercepted pass on the game's first play from scrimmage. Denali Campbell had a long punt return. Eli Campbell's strip caused a Bartram Trail fumble inside Seabreeze's 10-yard line.
"I put us in a bad situation where I was not calling our best plays to get things rolling," Brown said. "Because we know they're a good team that's not going to allow you to beat them."
Laython Biddle had three first-half touchdown runs for the Bears (2-0). And Liam Padron booted a 48-yard field goal. Padron kicked a short field goal just before halftime, but an FPC penalty gave the Bears a first down and they turned it into another TD for a 31-0 halftime lead.
In Week 1, the Sandcrabs trailed Spruce Creek 21-0 before their rally came up short in a 21-14 loss.
"This week (at University on Friday, Sept. 9) we've got to focus on coming out strong," Gonzalez said. "We've got to score first quarter, we've got to score second quarter, we've got to score the whole game. We can't keep coming out slow, doing locker room talks in the second half to get people hyped. We got rolling in the second half, but it's gonna be different next week."