“East Bay will do what East Bay does. High-level football and kicking it back old school; hopefully our pads do a lot more talking than our mouths…” ~ Head Coach Frank LaRosa, East Bay Indians
Gibsonton, August 23, 2019- TGIF! The smell of freshly cut grass, sweat, and noisy support of the crowd (hopefully) are in the air and you know what that means- Friday. Night. lights. Tonight is the night teams from all across the sunshine state will showcase new talent, schemes, and more importantly, scratch that itch of stepping back on the regular-season gridiron after offseason blood, sweat and possibly tears. Today we bring you some insider “deets” on the Indians’ current standpoint and preparation efforts for their rivalry matchup against Lennard. Without further ado, let’s hear straight from the source with head coach Frank LaRosa; East Bay football’s main mentor since 2011.
“I think the biggest thing is the team always changes year to year in some fashion; you can’t go into any season, from fall to spring things without it. We approach it like, how are things going to be different from a coaching standpoint and so forth. There are kids that transfer in and out and kids that graduate- we were pretty young this fall, but some guys came in and we have three returning senior starters on both sides of the football.
… “There’s a lot of things to be excited about; we have a lot of guys stepping up, so it’s great to see everybody growing together. Takes time for chemistry to be built and have new faces on the same page but it’s been awesome watching these kids compete,” explains head coach Frank LaRosa.
“The coordinators will watch film to come up with their schemes for a collective game plan on both sides of the ball, so we don’t become our own opponent. Let’s evaluate ourselves, so we don’t give Lennard an extra advantage that can be avoided. We can’t control how big, fast, and strong athletes are so we can only hope to contain them in our preparation and take care of business on our end, to make sure we don’t make a good team and better one,” states the head coach speaking on breaking down film prep and preachings.
The boys in the red, gray and white tied the 2018 season knot at 6-4 and have gone positive these past four years including this past season. This year though, they’re seeking to rid themselves of stepping on their own feet less and controlling the outcome starting from the inside out.
“One of the biggest things for us was not being able to play last week. I want to see some guys step up. It’s always fun to watch kids that surprise you when the lights go on and make a name for themselves, and we go back Saturday morning and talk them up. This team has to find its identity and that will follow us all fall because it’s practically a new team.”
“The energy will be palpable- especially facing off against our rival. Let’s put a product on the field Friday night, come back tomorrow and be satisfied with the outcome and break down needed improvements. This game counts right away now, so the rust has to shake off early.”
As coach LaRosa mentioned, the seasonal ‘rust’ needs to fall off quick since they were unable to get the butterflies out of their system. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather and field conditions, their preseason game at Palmetto was canceled. What some might not understand is, preseason high school football plays a more crucial role in the readiness of starting athletes compared to professional preseason ball.
The Cleveland Browns went four for four in the 2017 preseason and then went on to go a whopping 0-16 in the overall season. Hence why everybody says “preseason means nothing”, but, they’re talking about NFL. Yes, these high school guys are put to the test in the same sense that aspiring young pros that might not see as much action are, but high school ball doesn’t have three or four strings to every position at their expense. These young players have less time to throw away the nerves and get a feel for real-time in-game situations, especially at the mercy of all prep being outdoors. Just factors to be considered, that’s all.
The long-time coach closes passionately, “The last thing I left them with was that I am very impressed with how fall camp came together and things just clicked. We had a fantastic practice on Monday in preparation for Lennard that wasn’t just, quote on quote football; everything else came into place that day, too. Communication and accountability and just celebrating success in practice- all that’s important took a massive step in the right direction.
… “These kids are so incredibly selfless; they genuinely care who they’re lined up next to and that goes a long way. My biggest takeaway is just how much we’ve improved in one week and it’s really excited us as a coaching staff.”
Mother nature gave East Bay a little low blow and has not been kind to southern football, in particular, this offseason, but welcome to bi-polar Florida; where the “sunshine state” is also the lightning capital of the country (Venezuela wears the capital of the ‘world’ crown according to NASA if you were wondering). Not to worry though, it just adds to their plate of adversity- something coach emphasizes they’ve handled quite well throughout his time spent with these young men.
The East Bay Indians will take on the Lennard Longhorns in an away, non-conference game at 7:30 p.m. Nothing like a good ol’ football atmosphere, so go out and visit those ticket booths folks!
Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor