Clearwater Riding High The Play-maker Wave

Clearwater, March 24, 2019- TGIF. In this week’s quote-based team feature we receive some wise words from Clearwater Tornadoes’ football head coach Don Mesick on a couple of his athletes that attended BCP’s past E7TC camp series and a handful of the other heavy contributors involved in painting the winning picture.

“We’re marketing Chendrick [Cann] as a corner; he has tremendous leaping ability at 5’11” 165 pounds, working on his hands and strength tirelessly- he’ll be impressing scouts this spring. His brother was 6’4” and well over 200 pounds; he played at Dixie High and played QB at Fam University, so growth in his genes. Can’t say enough good about him- he’s a very coachable, athletic kid with good grades, so we’ve got high expectations for him after this past year.” Says head coach Don Mesick confidently.

“Jhaylen Murray took a back seat last year; this is our best receiver core from top to bottom so we had a lot of depth, but he’ll be starting for us this year. Jhaylen is an upcoming junior wide receiver with average size at 5’8” 150 pounds, but possesses tremendous strength, a smart IQ player and has made many strides in our program from last year. He boosted his confidence and him along with Chendrick, are two of our pound-for-pound strongest receivers we have and he’ll make an awful a lot of plays for us offensively.”

“Rent Montie broke all the school’s records for completion percentage, passing yards, and touchdown passes as a junior QB. He would have started as sophomore, if not for an elbow injury and this year he played through the last 5 games with a hyper-extended knee, but missed none of them. It was an incident that happened in practice, but regardless, he didn’t miss a practice after it, either. This kid is tough as nails, a tremendous leader, and an extremely capable passer. This upcoming season, given the weapons he’s got around him, his numbers are going to jump off the page to people,” states coach Mesick whole heartedly.

“I love his toughness, competitiveness and his leadership ability along with his skillful passing capabilities- he won’t miss a beat with that going into the season. Besides his poised pocket presence, Rent studies a lot more film than previous quarterbacks, so his ability to keep his eyes down the field and get out of trouble to deliver the football is off the charts.”

“Latrez [Bradley] is quick, tough back to catch at 5’8” 155 pounds; he’s increasing his speed running track, too. The two biggest things he got better at are his further understanding of our offense- we can leave him in the whole drive now, so he has a better balance within our offense now. The second part is he’s working a heck of a lot harder as an incoming senior and putting on a substantial amount of muscle mass during the off season for his bigger workload this year; going to pay huge dividends for us.”

“We’re really high on other play-makers on the offensive side of the ball like junior wide receiver Marquvion Jeter and brother of our corner, Marcus Jeter. Last year, Marquvion was our number two receiver in his first year- he’ll be a huge help to our receiving core. We’re only returning two offensive linemen, so our biggest story is the development of our front line this off season and they’re really working their tails off. We’ve had some lazy guys prior to this group, but these guys are really hungry and are together all the time; I love the work ethic of the group and they really care to be great. They know we have these play-makers, and it’s a thankless job lacking credit at times, but we can’t go anywhere without them so they hold themselves accountable as well.”

The zealous football and life mentor goes on, “Chendrick Cann, Tim Williams, our junior defensive tackle that has a Florida State offer among others, Rent Montie are some of our highly sought college prospects. Our 6’6” 312-pound offensive tackle, Justin Kubani is going to open some eyes this summer at camp too. Last year was his first year, playing in half the games in the 2018 season. Justin made a huge jump in his lower body strength and control; the first thing we try to develop in our young linemen is that lower body power and control.”

“Aidan Bell is a little undersized at 5’11” 195 pounds for a sophomore defensive end, but he’s a hard worker like a lot of guys on our squad right now, thankfully. He doesn’t miss workouts and we’ll get some contributions from him as a backup force this year; our top six defensive linemen are returning, so we have a good deep rotation going, but he’s definitely in the mix coming up with these veterans. Aidan has a high probability of growing and he’s there every single day to work for us, so I appreciate guys like him.” 

John Scargle, former defensive back and alum at University of Central Florida, will be coordinating Clearwater’s defense this 2019 season, head coach Mesick informed me. John was the defensive coordinator at Clearwater Central Catholic for a lengthy 15 seasons, where he was awarded Defensive Coach of the Year for Pinellas County in 2012, was a head coach at Palm Harbor for the 2017 season and a defensive backs coach at Saint Anselm College in New Hampshire, coaching NCAA Division two athletes this past 2018 season.

 “Aaron Sanez is definitely one of our biggest bright spots on our O-line as an incoming sophomore; he got permission to train with us in eighth grade, so he’s continued to grow and grow and we’ll be playing him at guard. His athleticism, strength, and work ethic are things I absolutely love about him and can’t wait for what the future holds for him.”

“I’m coming into my 5th season now and the biggest thing is we’ve brought simply is a mentality of work. We train them absolutely year around- only six weeks out of the year they don’t have football responsibilities; it’s been our biggest change and reason for success. You’re going to have talent coming in and out but we’ve made a leap from a bad to a good team and looking towards the huge leap in becoming elite program; we’ve made some great strides, being in the playoffs the last four years, so were chasing that aspect right now.” Coach Mesick exclaims when asked what lead to the early and consistent success after assuming his role at Clearwater.

Since head coach Don Mesick’s arrival in 2015, the Tornadoes haven’t had a losing season and took home two district championships in his first two seasons (15’ season, 8-3, 16’ season, 10-1. The year with the least wins came this season, with a first-round playoff seven-seed wildcard at 6-5 overall and 4-1 in their Class 6A district 9 standings.

Head coach Mesick concludes passionately, “These kids only have four years of high school ball- it’s a strenuous amount of work, but we have to have fun with it. This past year, we started our ‘Tornado Games’ with prizes and creative ways to work out, they really enjoyed it and look forward to events every week; we did a hot dog eating contest, a bowling competition and a choreographed dance-off judged by coaches. We keep track of literally every duty in their classroom as well; I tell them you’re going to a person after this football thing so you have to know how to act.”  

“Our team has great leadership this year and we’ve lacked some of that in years past, but you can’t lead with two guys, so we’ve set the expectation with younger guys and the amount of kids that are going to lead for us is incredible. It takes a special group to take it all the way, making a run at the state trophy and attain the success were after, but I truly believe these guys have what it takes to be at the next level this year. It’s not as gruesome of a path to get to regionals and further into the playoffs in our region of competition, so the odds are more so in our favor this season and I’m excited for what it holds.”

Vaughan Sixbury, BCP Contributor