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September 2, 2013
COLLEGE PARK, MD - "I heard one of my teammates yell screen, and so I just knew where the ball would be and just took off. We lost a tough game today, but I told my teammates we've got nothing to be ashamed of and that we need to just take it on back to Florida and handle our business."
Those are the words of the magnanimous Freddie Booth-Lloyd following an amazing individual performance and an even grittier performance by his team on Sunday. He may look more like a Caterpillar Front-End Loader than a Fiat, but he moves like big #99 that played for Apopka and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Not too bad of an impression I'd say.
"It was one of those things where the team that ends with the ball last wins. What can you do? We had a bunch of chances, they had a bunch of chances, (the game) could have gone either way and that's just how it ended."
This may sound like a flippant response by a quasi-despondent coach in John Wilkinson that could care less about talking to a reporter following a gut punch like the one experienced at Byrd Stadium yesterday, but it was an accurate and appropriate one. Cocoa did EXACTLY what everyone from Florida that understands their schematic paradigm (aka they run the ball 99% of the time EVEN IF you know they are) expected them to do.
Gonzaga defeated Cocoa exactly how Cocoa would defeat Cocoa if they could play each other. They eliminated the horizontal screens that were playing into Cocoa's scheme (see: Freddie Booth-Lloyd's amazing pick-six), and started going RIGHT AT the Tigers 2-way hogs up front with misdirection and traps. Maybe that's what was so tough to swallow, or maybe it was just that's the way you're SUPPOSED to handle a hard loss in which your QB this time last year was in middle school and for the most part looked like a 3-year starter; meaning there's not a single reason to be disappointed with what happened other than there's a "1" in the loss column instead of a "0".
Wilkinson minces zero words and wastes zero time responding to any doubts moving forward. "He's my guy, (Judson). We're going to ride and fight to the end with him all the way. I think he's got explosive ability and playmaking skills, and he's my guy. It's as simple as that."
And you wonder why the Tigers are one of the most successful programs in the state.
"We've got 5 kids already committed to D-1 schools, we've got very good players, but our offensive line up front has a lot of experience. We've got four guys that started all last year and another guy that started 2 years at another school that started six games for us, and they're all 285-290lbs and are smart, and they just opened it up as the game wore on. We just felt like we we're going to run right at them, and if they stacked the box, we would dump it to the perimeter and get our speed in the open field one-on-one and let the playmakers make the plays."
That's Manatee Head Coach Joe Kinnan following the thorough dismantling of nationally-ranked Gilman who may have moved the ball effectively at times against the 'Canes, but in the end weren't going to be able to even get into the cafeteria, much less sit at the "cool kids" table once they started turning the ball over and unable to answer anything that QB Josh Meyer, and RB/WR's Trevon Walters, Marquel Hines, Kelvin McKnight and Class of '16 RB Johnnie Lang were executing. Teams from Florida may be known for their speed, but Manatee (along with a few others in Florida such as Lincoln & Booker T.) are proving that our big guys are just as mean and strong as anyone else's; oh yeah, and fast too.
The Hurricanes are a part of an interesting trend amongst the schools (Dr. Phillips and Cocoa come to mind) that have had household names in the national recruiting circles at specific positions, but may in fact be a better "team" with underclassmen that were on JV or even in the 8th Grade at this time last season that can contribute like they're 4-year starters.
"It was a heavyweight, slug at 'em, punch at 'em, kind of matchup," said legendary Head Coach Joe Kinnan. "In the second half we started getting the movement up front with our big people, our running backs Trevon (Walters) and our sophomore Johnnie Lang, who is really tough in the open field. He's going to be a real good one."
After talking to Coach Kinnan and QB Josh Meyer, it looks like more things change, the more they stay the same. Meyer, the 6-1, 205lb Class of 2015 rising star was completely in perspective after the game mixed in with a little "I or (we) told you so" for the doubters that assumed that they would drop off after the departure of Cord Sandberg.
"It was awesome; especially playing in this stadium, even though it wasn't filled up, it was still an absolutely amazing experience, even better that we won. MaxPreps had us losing by 21, so I guess that's not a very good prediction, but at the end of the day it's on us to make it happen and being in front of my family and friends and teammates doing that in this atmosphere on the road is just amazing. We're back and ready to go."