- July 25, 2018
According to Seabreeze’s new football coach, Lester Davis, his players do not run to make it, they run to get better — step-by-step.
With a lot of encouragement and direction from the coaches, the seedlings of growth began to sprout at the Sandrabs' first spring practice on Monday, May 1.
Davis took the leadership role when former coach Pat Brown became the receivers coach at Valdosta State University in February. Currently, Davis is transitioning between Mainland High School, where he is a teacher and was the defensive coordinator, and Seabreeze High.
“I’m still transitioning,” he said. “I’m working half a day at Mainland then at Seabreeze for the second half of the day. The stressful part of it is trying to handle things from afar. A lot of things need to get done and I’m trying to take care of business from there.”
Seabreeze's assistant coaches are in place with the addition of offensive line coach Victor Campbell Jr., offensive coordinator and running backs coach Blake Hillman, assistant secondary coach Staff Sgt. Ezra David Ancrum and quarterbacks coach Dominique Roberts. Campbell teaches physical education at Atlantic High School during the day and coaches at Seabreeze after school.
Davis is pleased that defensive line coach Kerry Kramer stayed with the team this season. Kramer was his head coach when he was a linebacker for Seabreeze. They now coach side-by-side.
Once we got out here, it was easy. It was getting this together that was hard. We are home. Every coach is locked in and they have been great. You can see the kids are moving and hustling. They feel it. You can feel it in the air — it’s change. — Lester Davis, Seabreeze head football coach
“Once we got out here, it was easy,” Davis said. “It was getting this together that was hard. We are home. Every coach is locked in and they have been great. You can see the kids are moving and hustling. They feel it. You can feel it in the air — it’s change.”
Pepper Johnson returns as the defensive backs coach and as the head junior varsity coach as his middle school basketball team heads into playoffs undefeated. He is looking forward to continue with the momentum that coach Brown initiated for the Sandcrabs.
“I think it is going to be very exciting,” Johnson said. “I think the biggest difference is we might blitz a little more, move around and try to make some things happen — try to get a few more turnovers. The last few years, we have been pretty blessed with a good secondary and those guys did a great job holding the back end up, picking the ball off and making plays. I think we have to get better up front with linebacker play.”
One of Davis’ goals is to nurture a culture change for his new team. No matter where he is, he said, he wants his players to understand his standard and live up to it. He is looking for his rising seniors to help set that precedent for the team.
Up front, guards Aiden Ford and Luca Sarno return to anchor the offensive line and open holes for “Mr. Everything” — Denali Campbell. There is also a quarterback battle brewing between returning player Hayden Hayes and transfer, Chandler Mitzo, who placed first in javelin at the District 6-3A track and field meet.
Heading into the first full team practice with coaches, the Sandcrabs had positional group practices with no ball. Hayes was happy to be back out with everyone instead of going home after school. The last time he had practiced with the team and coaches was the end of fall season last year.
“It’s early, but so far I think he was the right guy for the job,” he said of coach Davis. “Not only did he fill Brown’s shoes, I just think he is the best man. It’s hard to follow up Brown who did a lot of great things for Seabreeze, but he brings a different fight. He is always energy — always there. He is always talking with everyone.”
Hayes has grown two inches and added 35 pounds to his frame since last season which makes the two quarterbacks evenly matched. Mitzo arrived from Deltona after the last football season. Hayes won’t know who has the job until the coach makes the official depth chart.
“It’s cool to have another guy around to talk to,” Hayes said. “We get along pretty well. I always try to find a way to be nice to someone. I’m not against anyone for whatever they play.”
Hayes not only grew physically but feels he has grown mentally as well.
“I’ve always said I don’t play to play quarterback, I’m there to play football,” he said. “But don’t get me wrong, if it were up to me, I’d like to be there (as quarterback).”
Wide receivers Antonio Davis and Marquis McCants are now part of Mainland’s roster, but Hayes is excited about returning go-to players Denali Campbell, Landon Smith, Micah Karr, Brody Boda, Giovanni Mitchell, Dylan Hayes and Shamar Durham.
“I’m excited about the young guys and what they can bring,” he said. “But you know, I love the old realiables — true to what I know.”
Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:15 p.m. on Thursday, May 4, to correct the spelling of Victor Campbell Jr.