Streaks, Devils play for pride
Allen Moody | Highlands TodayIt's often said that when two rivals get together on the field you can throw the records out the window.
Published: November 9, 2012
Published: November 9, 2012
Both Avon Park and Sebring would like nothing more, as the two teams will do battle tonight in the season finale for both squads at Joe Franza Stadium in Avon Park.
Wins haven't come easy for either team, with both picking up a single regular-season victory. Both squads are relatively young and haven't been bashful about playing underclassmen at the varsity level and asking a lot of them.
"Both teams have been struggling a little bit this year and I think both teams have the opportunity to show the community a good game and show them what they have to look forward to next year," said Sebring coach LaVaar Scott. "We're both fairly young. We only have about seven seniors who play and they're a very young team also, so it will be two young teams. It will be a show of what's to come."
The Blue Streaks have dominated the series in recent years, with the Red Devils last getting a win in 2005, but Avon Park coach Lee Brown believes this year's class has the ability to get things going in a different direction.
"I think it would be outstanding for the seniors to win," he said. "Their class could start the legacy for something big here and it would be great for that to take place. What a way to cement your legacy and be known as part of the class that got the ball rolling and got things turned around."
Brown said your final high school game is something that will stay with you a very long time.
"Across the country, the rivalry game can make the year for you in terms of your lasting memories," he said. "Just like I remember the last college football game I played and I remember the last high school football game I played, it wasn't a rivalry game, but it's something that I still carry with me to this day and it would be something great for them to carry with them the rest of your lives."
Sebring senior Davaris Faulk said it doesn't seem possible that this will be his final game in the blue and white.
"It came too fast," he said. "It seems like yesterday I was a sophomore just moving up."
Faulk also knows that all of the seniors he played with have never lost a game to Avon Park and wants to end his high school career in the same fashion.
"All the classes I played with went out with a victory, so I have to," he said.
Brown wants to see his team be aggressive and play relentlessly.
"This is the last game of the year so there's nothing to hold back," he said. "It would be very important for us to be relentless through the whole ball game and if we make a mistake, make a mistake at 100 miles-an-hour. I think if we can do that we have a chance."
Scott believes the key for his team will be to cut down on the mistakes and play the way they're capable of for all four quarters.
"We have to execute, that's the key," Scott said. "Play Blue Streak football and execute and everything else will take care of itself."
Faulk said it hasn't been an easy season and a win would definitely help.
"We have to take it all out on them," he said. "We have to stop making mistakes and run the ball. We're going to stop them defensively. We need to the run the ball down their throat and get the 'W.' "
Faulk did say that the effort is there on a weekly basis, which was good to see.
"It's been a rough road, but we keep fighting," he said. "That's one thing I like about this team is they never gave up. Any other team would probably have quit."
Brown said the Blue Streaks have decent size, along with some big-time players the Red Devils have to keep an eye on, including Faulk, AJ Gayle, Arthur Williams and Larry Scott, but he was encouraged by the team's performance in practice.
"I'm pleased with our attentiveness this week and our attention to detail," Brown said. "The guys have stayed focused. If you come to a practice the energy is still high, the guys are bouncing around and we're flying around offensively."
Brown believes it will pay dividends in the future for the younger players to participate in such a big rivalry game.
"It's a great opportunity for the young guys to experience this game early on and to serve as motivation for them in the offseason," he said. "They can see what it represents to play in the game instead of being on the bench until they're juniors or seniors."
The players are definitely familiar with each other, which will add to the intensity, and Scott said both teams will be ready to play.
"It's a rivalry game so you hope a lot of people show up on both sides and we give them a good game," he said.
Faulk said the Blue Streak coaches have done a great job this season and he'd also like to get a victory for them.
"I have to give thanks to all the coaches for doing their best to keep the program going without falling apart, especially Coach Scott," Faulk said. "He has a lot to deal with, so I have to give out a shout to Coach Scott."
Sebring at Avon Park
When: Tonight at 7
Where: Joe Franza Stadium