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May 8, 2013

Bucs facing rebuilding task and move to 8A

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Even perfection has its humbling points.

After running through the past two regular seasons with a perfect 10-0 record, and advancing to the state 7A finals in 2011, First Coast looked to be an odds-on favorite over Gainesville Buchholz (5-5) in the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Like many fans and prognosticators, the Bucs overlooked the Bobcats - and paid for it - losing 10-7 in overtime.

"We've got to be humble," said First Coast Buccaneer head coach Marty Lee. "Last year we were looking to play Lincoln and forgot about Buchholz."

"You can never overlook your opponent," said Bucs head coach Marty Lee. "That's what we did against Buchholz. They're a good football team and they beat us. I didn't do a good job of coaching that game, and they did. I didn't keep the kids focused on the present. That's a lesson learned," "

Humbled and hungry, the First Coast Buccaneers returned to the practice field this spring still smarting over a first-round exit from last y ear's post-season.

"Our goal this year is to stay focused and take each opponent week by week," Lee said. "We're a young football team and we're excited about the off-season, we're excited about spring."

First Coast returns only four offensive starters and three defensive starters. Rebuilding is not an option for First Coast.

"We don't like to use the word 'rebuild'," Lee said. "We like to 'reload'. If we were to play today, we would have four seniors returning on defense and two on offense. We're going to be young and have to learn fast."

Two of those seniors starting are Kamren Lott and Reggan Northrup. Both play in the secondary for the Bucs - which lost Darius Whitty (USF), D.J. Killings and (UCF).

"(Kamren) Lott's just a smart football player," Lee said. "If we were one of those schools that played both sides of the ball, he could do that."

Two juniors stand out for the Bucs - LB Sherrod Pittman (LB/RB) and Florida State commit - QB De'Andre Johnson

"Sherrod (Pittman) has a knack for being around the ball," Lee said. "And De'Andre (Johnson) has accepted the leadership role. Bringing in Cleo Lemon (former Jaguar QB) as a QB coach has helped."

First Coast will make the jump to 8A this year, after competing in 7A for two years. It's a move that Lee both looks forward to and has reservations.

"I thought that class 7A the last couple of years was the toughest class in the state," Lee said. "Maybe even the nation. I mean there's not a lot of teams anywhere capable of beating Manatee (Bradenton), St. Thomas (Aquinas) or Lincoln (Tallahassee) on a given day."

"Still, moving to 8A is a challenge," Lee continued. "We're the smallest 8A program in the state. The biggest thing would be the size of the teams we'll play - roster-wise."

"We're looking forward to the challenge," Lee said. "We've had a hard time finding opponents in the local area. It's just going to make us a better football team to play teams from outside our area."



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